Dancing With Archaeologists

Posted on June 28, 2011


Saw this posted on the BritArch listserve.

Evolutionary and Interpretive Archaeologies: A Dialogue Ethan Cochrane and Andrew Gardner, Eds.

This collection of original articles compares various key archaeological topics—agency, violence, social groups, diffusion—from evolutionary and interpretive perspectives. These two strands represent the major current theoretical poles in the discipline. By comparing and contrasting the insights they provide into major archaeological themes, this volume demonstrates the importance of theoretical frameworks in archaeological interpretations. Chapter authors discuss relevant Darwinian or interpretive theory with short archaeological and anthropological case studies to illustrate the substantive conclusions produced. The book will advance debate and contribute to a better understanding of the goals and research strategies that comprise these distinct research traditions.

What is Evolutionary or Interpretive Archaeologies? Did I miss something? When did this happen? They are the major current theoretical poles in the discipline?

This and a conversation I had a little while ago reminds me of the paper Dancing with Professors. The premise is that professors, but it is applicable to all archaeologists, use bad writing and made up terms (see above) to hide making a definitive statement (see above again, I can’t really tell what the book is about) and to protect against criticism, you can’t criticise what you don’t understand, except for the part that you don’t understand it. Of course, if you say you don’t understand then you open yourself up to the accusation that you are too stupid to understand, a nice trick.

Now, I understand the need to rename things and create new names but there is only so much this can happen and there is a point this needs to stop. I, personally, don’t like having to try to figure out what is going on and the public sure doesn’t like it.