Sound of Theory

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

The folk have sung, on YouTube: enough of personalities. This session brings in responsible scientists, responsible in that they respond to empirical data, to stakeholders, communities, and descendants, and to basic principles of the historical sciences, including IBE, inference to the best explanation. Evidence-based practices let theory flow from encountered data, evaluated not only from Western Enlightenment suppositions of universal regularities, but also from the realities understood by communities from other cultural epistemologies. Ethics as well as politics must not be magicked away from archaeologists' work toward inferences to the best explanations

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • Co-practice amongst Non-Western Peoples: Abandoning Theory at Center Stage (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peter Schmidt.

    Theory as Western performance in archaeology has hogged center stage so long that other actors standing in the wings ready to play their roles are not included in the drama. Indigenous theories of knowledge have been relegated to permanent off-stage status. Yet those who have had the privilege to work with and collaborate with historically-minded counterparts in other cultures have incrementally accumulated local beliefs and have, both consciously and unconsciously, woven local epistemologies...

  • Conserving the Buddhist stupas and religious nationalism in Sri Lanka (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jagath Weerasinghe.

    Surveying, excavating, and conserving Buddhist stupas have been major activities undertaken by Sri Lankan archaeologists since colonial times. Conservation of Buddhist stupas holds an important place in the archaeological agenda of the national institutions in Sri Lanka. I present the elusive concept of ‘authenticity’, treated as the most important criterion in conserving architectural heritage and examine the crisis that emerged when this centerpiece of the Authorized Heritage Discourse was...

  • Contextualizing the theory of archaeological theorization (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Koji Mizoguchi.

    The controlled discursivization of various undiscursivized/practical archaeological taken-for-granteds, ranging from micro-culturally-constituted traditions in artifact classification to grand meta-theoretical inclinations, is a constitutive function of archaeological theorization. How can it be implemented in the manner which most effectively enhances the potentiality of one’s archaeological investigation and practice depends on the purpose of the investigation and practice, and on the...

  • Empirical honesty and the ethical role of archaeologists in divided societies (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Audrey Horning.

    Negotiating the politics of the present while staying true to the evidence of the past is the central challenge of responsible, ethically-engaged archaeological practice: the line between the archaeologist and the citizen is never clear cut. Questions of moral obligation and the imperative to respect multiple perspectives are of particular resonance when dealing with contested histories in conflict-ridden and post-conflict societies. Archaeology in these contexts carries risks, but also the...

  • Empirical Imperialism and the Development of Indigenous Archaeologies (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stephen Mrozowski.

    One way of situating the empirical research that often accompanied European colonialism is to view it as an instrument of imperialism. This legacy stands a major impediment to the kind of collaboration that is an essential part of the growth of indigenous archaeologies. Yet empirical research remains an important part of archaeology. Used in a collaborative framework it can provide powerful evidence that can augment and refine indigenous histories, especially those being disputed by...

  • Healing Archaeology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Walz.

    In this paper, I discuss alternative interpretations of findings from an interdisciplinary archaeology project in East Africa. I share the way in which my experiences as an archaeologist among people and on landscapes enriched and altered my original understanding of communities and the region's history. Interactions with Zigua healer-historians alerted me to indigenous concepts of time and space and the role and significance of ancestors and healing, which inevitably offered more robust and...

  • Instigating Technological Knowledge through an African Ontology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dr. Kathryn Arthur.

    This paper focuses on the relationship between material culture and living peoples as constructed through an African perspective of what it means to be in existence- ontology. It is critical that we precedent descendant theories of the human and nonhuman world to produce meaningful narratives of the past, to avoid alienation and ethnocentrism. The Borada-Gamo of southern Ethiopia offers that their worldview enlightens their knowledge of technology. Material culture as spiritually animated has...

  • Introduction: Evidence-based practice versus Ivory Tower careers (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alice Kehoe.

    As contract firms have become employers for the majority of archaeologists, evidence-based practice is demanded. Universities have responded by creating contract programs separate from traditional doctoral tracks. Some glorify theory construction, some others—where some of our presenters are affiliated—are responding to mandated public involvement by encouraging faculty and students to seek to work with local and descendant communities. Action archaeology, Kleindienst and Watson called it in...

  • "Knowledge Without Action…": Shifting Frames of Reference in Archaeology Theory and Practice (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only George Nicholas.

    Following 15th-century philosopher’s Wang Yangming’s statement that "Knowledge without action is not real knowledge," I explore the value of knowledge that emanates from evidence-based practice grounded in descendant community’s engagement with heritage, and it subsequent application in two realms. The first is research at the interface of Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Western science; the second a series of community-initiated and -directed studies funded by the Intellectual Property Issues in...

  • Silence and Noise in the Archaeological Record: are archaeological understandings always underdetermined? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Philip Kohl.

    Silence and Noise in the Archaeological Record: are archaeological understandings always underdetermined? In his seminal critique on the practice of history: Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, Michel-Rolph Trouillot persuasively argues that historians often cannot understand or even recognize major historical events, such as the slave organized and directed rebellion in Haiti (1791-1804) that led to the end of slavery and the establishment of the Republic of Haiti. It was...

  • Whose Ancestors, les Gaulois? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carole Crumley.

    Four decades ago this summer, newly arrived in a country where we barely spoke the language, our field crew began excavation of an Iron Age hill fort. First encounters quickly taught us that local identity was grounded in the tradition of the Iron Age Celts, not the later arriving Romans, Franks, or the region’s powerful medieval dukes. My intention was to see how indigenous peoples had fared before and after the Roman conquest; I planned a colonization framework. But the site was a surprise,...