Institute of Archaeology

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First for Archaeology in UK 2015

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Ethnic Identities in Archaeological Interpretation

Publication date: Oct 31, 2012 11:36 AM

Start: Nov 19, 2012 05:15 PM
End: Nov 19, 2012 06:15 PM

Location: UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Ethnic Identities in Archaeological Interpretation

The Institute's History of Archaeology Research Network will hold a special lecture at the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology on 19 November.

Manuel Fernández-Götz (Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Baden-Würtemberg) will give a presentation entitled 'From 'Pots=People' to 'Ethnicity Without Groups': Ethnic Identities in Archaeological Interpretation'.

All are welcome, but due to limited seating capacity at the Petrie Museum if you would like to attend, or for any further details about upcoming History of Archaeology Network events, please contact Amara Thornton.

Seminar Abstract

Since the beginning of archaeology as a discipline, and even before, the question 'Who?' has played a core role in approximations to the past through material culture. However, the way to conceptualize this topic has changed considerably over time. Thus, the essentialist theories of the so-called ethnic-cultural paradigm were based on a simple and simplistic equation between 'people', 'language' and 'archaeological culture'.

In an age of increasing nationalism, archaeologists tried to trace the fates of tribes or peoples, often perceived as immutable and unchanging from the origins to the present. In contrast, nowadays there is a growing consensus in archaeology, anthropology and sociology that ethnicity is fleeting, constructed, relational and contextual, and that all social identities are historically contingent.

Consequently, recent post-processual proposals emphasize the subjective, fluid and situational character of ethnic identities. Dissecting and clarifying the different meanings is, therefore, a basic task needed to move forward in the construction of an archaeology of identities