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Silence and Noise in the Archaeological Record: are archaeological understandings always underdetermined?

Author(s): Philip Kohl

Year: 2015

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Summary

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 simply inconceivable that slaves could plan and lead a successful revolt against their French masters. If historians with such a rich textual record can overlook or largely ignore this past, what chance do we have as archaeologists to recognize and interpret the silences of the material cultural record that are so fundamental to the discipline? This paper addresses the acute archaeological problem of interpreting "the absence of evidence" through the development of international collaborative research programs that foster a more robust understanding of the archaeological record; more dissonance undercuts the refractory silences of the past.

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Silence and Noise in the Archaeological Record: are archaeological understandings always underdetermined?. Philip Kohl. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395646)


Keywords


Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America