The Postcolonial Imperative

Author(s): Alice Kehoe

Year: 2018


Formal dissolution of European empires following WW II, as they transformed into transnational financial powers, allowed subaltern standpoints and "traditional knowledge" (TEK) to be voiced. American archaeology shifted into CRM becoming the dominant field, reflecting in part the rise of tourism as a principal global industry, with local histories a selling tool. Then NAGPRA put American archaeology into a postcolonial position. While much of NAGPRA negotiations still falls into colonialist discourse, and paternalism still rules the BIA, a postcolonial standpoint is basic: there is no "prehistory," every community has its history and archaeologists' work must pay attention to those histories and knowledge––a rapprochement between Enlightenment universalist premises underlying "science," and foundational premises held by non-Western nations. A postcolonial standpoint will conflict with academics' high valuation of Theory, which in its universalist pretensions remains colonialist discourse. For some of us, "archaeologies of listening" describes our postcolonialist approach; working with ethnohistorians is an allied postcolonial approach. The ground is shifting, like tectonic plates uplifting ranges of TEK.

Cite this Record

The Postcolonial Imperative. Alice Kehoe. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442610)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Colonialism TEK

Geographic Keywords
North America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20531