Undoing and Redoing Archaeological Practice: Archaeology as technique across prehistory, history, and the contemporary

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Archaeologies of the contemporary have begun to rethink and repurpose the tools (material, methodological, and epistemological) of archaeological practice, in order to study the contemporary moment, responding to a variety of new theoretical and political commitments. Similarly, a motley crew of 'social archaeologists' (for lack of a better term), working in a wide variety of prehistoric and historic contexts, have been exploring their dissatisfactions with traditional archaeological methodologies (and their attendant epistemologies) and the constraints they place on our understandings of the past (and present). The purpose of this session is to open a conversation between these groups, centered on understanding how archaeological methodologies function as techniques (in the Foucauldian sense) that anchor and participate in the production of certain forms of knowledge. It welcomes contributions that explore the histories and genealogies of archaeological techniques and knowledges, re-think archaeological methodologies through their use in answering questions about the contemporary moment or the past, and/or consider the multiple, complicated temporalities and geographies that can be produced through archaeological practices. The hope is that this session will provoke conversations that transgress the boundaries of the contemporary and the past in fruitful ways, critically interrogating archaeology as a powerful technique of knowledge production.