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Rifts in the Theoretical Landscape of Archaeology in the United States: A Comment on Hegmon and Watkins

  • Madonna L. Moss (a1)


Recent papers by Michelle Hegmon (2003) and Joe Watkins (2003) purport to “map the terrain” of North American archaeology. Yet these two metaphorical maps present very different views of the contours of North American archaeology. Taken together, the two papers highlight problematic divisions between (1) theory and practice in North American archaeology, and (2) academic archaeology and cultural resource management. What are the roles archaeological theory plays in the contemporary practice of archaeology? Why do discussions of archaeological theory have so little to offer stakeholders other than academic archaeologists? Although Hegmon has shown many areas of convergence in archaeological theory, her depiction of “processual-plus” archaeologies dulls the edge of postprocessual critiques of the processual status quo. I argue that feminist, Marxist, and postcolonial archaeologies cannot be subsumed by this label because some of their practitioners aspire to contribute to social change beyond the realm of archaeology itself. These practitioners realize that the practice of archaeology always has political consequences, not just for academic archaeologists, but for a diverse set of stakeholders.


Los ensayos recientes de Michele Hegmon (2003) y de Joe Watkins (2003) pretenden “trazar el terreno” de la arqueología norteamericana. Con todo, estos dos mapas metafóricos presentan vistas muy diversas de los contornos de la arqueología norteamericana. Tornados juntos, los dos ensayos destacan las divisiones problemáticas entre (1) teoría y práctica en la arqueología norteamericana, y (2) arqueología académica y el manejo de recursos culturales. ¿Cuáles son los roles que la teoría arqueológica juega en la práctica contemporánea de la arqueología? ¿Por qué las discusiones de la teoría arqueológica tienen tan poco para ofrecer a los interesados con excepción de arqueólogos académicos? Aunque Hegmon ha demostrado muchas áreas de convergencia en las teorías arqueológicas, su descripción de las arqueologías “processual-plus” amortigua el filo de las críticas “post-processuales” del status quo “processual.” Yo argumento que las arqueologías feminista, Marxista, y post-colonial no puedan ser confinadas por esta etiqueta, porque algunos de sus practicantes aspiran a contribuir al cambio social más allá del ámbito mismo de la arqueología. Estos practicantes se dan cuenta que la práctica de la arqueología tiene siempre consecuencias políticas, no solamente para los arqueólogos académicos, sino también para una variedad de interesados.



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Rifts in the Theoretical Landscape of Archaeology in the United States: A Comment on Hegmon and Watkins

  • Madonna L. Moss (a1)


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