Who Shot First?: Codified Categories Creating Imaginary Archaeological Pasts

Author(s): Matthew Beaudoin

Year: 2015


Archaeologists in Canada are empowered by the Canadian state through licensing and/or permitting systems; as such, archaeological practices are intrinsically entangled with various levels of governance. While it would be convenient to argue for an archaeology either free entirely of state control, or entirely and purposefully guided to fulfill state mandates, the reality is more nuanced. Archaeology is often structured by interpretive conventions that act to replicate the dominant archaeological zeitgeist, which complicates presumptions of unrestricted actors or invisible structuring controls. By exploring how archaeological sites are uncritically categorized and labelled in Brant County, Ontario, Canada, I demonstrate how the conventional taxonomic practices serve to create an imagined colonial past where the nineteenth century Ontario landscape is populated by white European people of English descent and devoid of various ‘Others’. This imaginary past is not born from the purposeful guidance of state regulators, but rather reinforced by the state’s codification of existing archaeological conventions and the uncritical acceptance of conventional categories by archaeologists.

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Cite this Record

Who Shot First?: Codified Categories Creating Imaginary Archaeological Pasts. Matthew Beaudoin. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396055)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;