Archaeology and Capitalism: From Ethics to Politics (One by Yannis Hamilakis, Philip Duke PDF

By Yannis Hamilakis, Philip Duke

The editors and members to this quantity specialise in the inherent political nature of archaeology and its influence at the perform of the self-discipline. Pointing to the discipline’s heritage of advancing imperialist, colonialist, and racist goals, they insist that archaeology needs to reconsider its muted expert stance and develop into extra openly lively brokers of swap. The self-discipline isn't really approximately an summary “archaeological checklist” yet approximately dwelling contributors and groups, whose lives and historical past be afflicted by the abuse of strength relationships with states and their brokers. in simple terms by way of spotting this strength disparity, and adopting a political ethic for the self-discipline, can archaeology justify its actions. Chapters diversity from a critique of conventional moral codes, to examinations of the capitalist motivations and buildings in the self-discipline, to demands an engaged, emancipatory archaeology that improves the lives of the folks with whom archaeologists paintings. a right away problem to the self-discipline, this quantity will galvanize dialogue, confrontation, and thought for plenty of within the box.

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The loss of historical information due to looting is undeniably a tragedy, and archaeologists are right to mitigate such loss however possible. But to claim that a looted object ceases to be meaningful denies the validity of any way of ‘knowing’ that is not in line with Western ‘scientific’ archaeological discourse. In other words, is looting as much a tragedy for local communities as it is for archaeologists? While in many cases the answer may be yes, this question is worth asking. As Larry Zimmerman (2000 [1995]:72) points out with regard to the ‘stewardship principle’ at the heart of the Society for American Archaeology’s ethics code, this view seems to hinge on a unilateral declaration of the ‘archaeological record as a public trust’… Were I a member of a group of nonarchaeologists, I might have a very different view, especially if I saw the heritage as the intellectual property of my people or if I saw the artifacts and their sale as a normal way to make a living.

A look at a recent event will help put these ideas into perspective. I refer to the archaeological reactions to the looting of the Baghdad museum and the looting and destruction of archaeological sites following the 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. The events are From Ethics to Politics 31 now well known, and I come straight to my point. I claimed elsewhere (Hamilakis 2003b) that, like the apartheid in 1986 (and the subsequent foundation of the World Archaeological Congress), this event represents nothing less than a deep ethical crisis in archaeology that demands serious debate.

Unquestioning support for the return of objects and for national patrimony laws thus have the potential to undermine rather than secure the rights of the groups archaeologists intend to help. When Theory, Practice and Policy Collide 51 REPATRIATION FOR WHOM? THE CASE OF PERU Archaeologists’ support of other nation’s patrimony laws are most difficult to understand when such legislation fails to serve the best interests of groups culturally linked to the material in question. Most modern nation-states include multiple ethnic groups whose diverse traditions contribute to the nation’s cultural patrimony.

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