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Reclaiming Archaeology

Archaeology has been an important source of metaphors for some of the key intellectuals of
the twentieth century: Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Alois Riegl and Michel Foucault,
amongst many others. However, this power has also turned against archaeology, because the
discipline has been dealt with perfunctorily as a mere provider of metaphors that other
intellectuals have exploited. Scholars from different fields continue to explore areas in which
archaeologists have been working for over two centuries, with little or no reference to the
discipline. It seems that excavation, stratigraphy or ruins only become important at a trans-
disciplinary level when people from outside archaeology pay attention to them and somehow
dematerialize them. Meanwhile, archaeologists have been usually more interested in borrowing
theories from other fields, rather than in developing the theoretical potential of the same
concepts that other thinkers find so useful.

The time is ripe for archaeologists to address a wider audience and engage in theoretical
debates from a position of equality, not of subalternity. Reclaiming Archaeology explores
how archaeology can be useful to rethink modernity’s big issues, and more specifically late
modernity (broadly understood as the twentieth and twenty-first centuries). The book contains
a series of original essays, not necessarily following the conventional academic rules of
archaeological writing or thinking, allowing rhetoric to have its place in disclosing the

In each of the four sections that constitute this book (method, time, heritage and materiality),
the contributors deal with different archaeological tropes, such as excavation, surface/depth,
genealogy, ruins, fragments, repressed memories and traces. They criticize their modernist
implications and rework them in creative ways, in order to show the power of archaeology not
just to understand the past, but also the present.

Reclaiming Archaeology includes essays from a diverse array of archaeologists who have
dealt in one way or another with modernity, including scholars from non-Anglophone
countries who have approached the issue in original ways during recent years, as well as
contributors from other fields who engage in a creative dialogue with archaeology and the
work of archaeologists.
Archaeological Orientations
Series Editors:
Gavin Lucas, University of Iceland, Reykjavík and
Christopher Witmore, Texas Tech University, USA.

An interdisciplinary series that engages our on-going, yet ever-changing, fascination with the
archaeological, Archaeological Orientations investigates the myriad ways material pasts are
entangled with communities, animals, ecologies and technologies, past, present or future.
From urgent contemporary concerns, including politics, violence, sustainability, ecology and
technology, to long-standing topics of interest, including time, space, materiality, memory and
agency, Archaeological Orientations promotes bold thinking and the taking of risks in pressing
trans-disciplinary matters of concern.

Providing the comprehensive coverage expected of a companion or handbook, Archaeological

Orientations aims to generate passionate, lively and engaged conversation around topics of
common interest without laying claim to new thematic territories. Archaeological Orientations asks
contributors and readers alike to take two steps back, cautiously and carefully to consider
issues from unforeseen, even surprising, angles. Archaeological Orientations embraces theoretical
provocation, cross-disciplinary debate and open discussion.

Coming soon:

Ruin Memories
Edited by Bjornar Olsen and Þóra Pétursdóttir

Reclaiming Archaeology
Beyond the Tropes of Modernity

Edited by Alfredo González-Ruibal

First published 2013
by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada

by Routledge
711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

1 Reclaiming archaeology
Alfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal

I. Method
2 The clearing: archaeology’s way of opening the world
Matt Edgeworth
3 Scratching the surface: reassembling an archaeology in and of the present
Rodney Harrison
4 From excavation to archaeological X-Files
Dawid Kobialka
5 Digging alternative archaeologies
Cristobal Gnecco
6 Evestigation, nomethodology and deictics: movements in un-disciplining
Alejandro Haber
7 Archaeology and photography: a pragmatology
Michael Shanks and Connie Svabo
8 New cultural landscapes: archaeological method as artistic practice
Barbara Fluxa

II. Time
9 The business of archaeology is the present
Laurent Olivier
10 Which archaeology? A question of chronopolitics
Christopher Witmore
11 The politics of periodization
Charles E. Orser, Jr
12 Change, individuality and reason, or how archaeology has legitimized a
patriarchal modernity
Almudena Hernando
13 Indigeneity and time: towards a decolonization of archaeological temporal
categories and tools
Gustavo Verdesio
14 Enacted multi-temporality: the archaeological site as a shared, performative
Yannis Hamilakis and Efthimis Theou

III. Heritage
15 The New Heritage and re-shapings of the past
Cornelius Holtorf and Graham Fairclough
16 The archaeological gaze
Gabriel Moshenska
17 In the shade of Frederick Douglass: the Archaeology of Wye House
Mark P. Leone, Amanda Tang, Benjamin A. Skolnik and Elizabeth Pruitt
18 Ruin memory: a hauntology of Cape Town
Nick Shepherd
19 A thoroughly modern park: Mapungubwe, UNESCO and Indigenous
Lynn Meskell
20 Days in Hong Kong, May 2011
Denis Byrne
21 The charter’d Thames
Sefryn Penrose

IV. Materiality
22 The return of what?
Bjornar Olsen
23 Inside is out: an epistemology of surfaces and substances
Paul Graves-Brown
24 Fragments as something more: archaeological experience and reflection
Mats Burstrom
25 Bringing a place in ruins back to life
Gaston Gordillo
26 Cutting the earth/cutting the body
Douglass Bailey
27 Archaeological remains of oil-based urbanity
Camilo Jose Vergara

Concluding thoughts
28 Milieux de mémoire
Martin Hall

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