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Does technology hinder or assist story-telling? A critical theory approach to archaeological representation and relational data

Author(s): Steve Kosiba

Year: 2017

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Summary

Advances in archaeological science are throwing new light on old concerns about representations of the past. Methods such as GIS allow archaeologists systematically to analyze multiple variables at once and rapidly to view data from various vantage points. Critics argue that such methods lose sight of the experiential aspects of history—the cultural differences that influenced how different people participated in social life and told stories about their past. This paper argues that this critique creates a false dichotomy between categories for archaeological explanation and practices that structure social experiences. In particular, the paper draws on critical theory and the philosophy of action to demonstrate how objective renderings of archaeological data can be consistent with subjective, experiential practices of story-telling. Stories are told by emphasizing situated relationships among people, materials, and spaces. New technology, with its capacity to create truly relational ontologies, can enhance archaeologists’ abilities to tell stories in ways that mirror cultural understandings, reveal essential cultural differences, and represent complex ecologies. As an example, the paper presents photogrammetry and GIS research from the heartland of the Incas, to tell a story of how forcibly resettled workers created a political community and challenged an empire by building their houses.


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Does technology hinder or assist story-telling? A critical theory approach to archaeological representation and relational data. Steve Kosiba. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431200)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17229

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