Techniques of Power and Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past

Author(s): John Roby; Maria Theresia Starzmann

Year: 2014


Historical archaeologists have devoted considerable attention to the need to produce knowledge that is not only academically relevant but also meaningful to the disempowered. While laudable in the abstract, such work largely falls short of emancipatory political praxis. We locate this failure in the fundamentally conservative nature of the discipline: a conservative archaeology comforts the powerful by reinforcing the class-based prerogative of interpretation (Deutungsmacht). In response to this uniquely academic technique of power, we suggest an archaeology that tacks between the hidden techniques of contemporary political-economic oppression and the lived experiences of the marginalized. While archaeologists of the recent past have demonstrated that revealing the hidden workings of power is possible, making manifest (sensu Gonzalez-Ruibal 2008) is merely a step toward social change. Key to our vision of an emancipatory archaeology is the need to move beyond knowledge production and critique, into informed action designed to challenge the structures that sustain the failed project of inclusion in late capitalism.

Cite this Record

Techniques of Power and Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past. John Roby, Maria Theresia Starzmann. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437122)

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-58,08