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Relativism, objectivity and the politics of the past

Hamilakis, Y; Holtorf, C; Pluciennik, M; Shanks, M; Sillar, B; Tarlow, S; Tierney, M; (1997) Relativism, objectivity and the politics of the past. Archaeological Dialogues , 4 (2) pp. 164-198.

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This paper results from a seminar and discussion series at Lampeter which was triggered by concern over the increasingly common view presented in archaeological literature which equates a caricature of‘post-processual’ archaeology with an equally naive understanding of relativism. In particular, it was noted that the recent book edited by Kohl and Fawcett (1995) contained many statements and editorial insertions which took this approach. Through a series of presented short papers and discussion we decided to explore why we were unhappy with these characterisations of both relativism and post-processual archaeology. These seminars were then summarised as a consensus document and associated comments (this present paper), which have themselves been through several stages of a joint editing process and further discussion (see also Hamilakis 1996; Holtorf 1996 and Pluciennik 1996 for related comments). We should make it clear that we are not unaware of far more sophisticated approaches to relativism within archaeology (e.g. Fotiadis 1994; Pinsky and Wylie 1989;Wylie 1992, 1993, 1994), but that we are here concerned with addressing a specific, and we believe inaccurate, viewpoint which seems to be gaining increasing currency.

Type: Article
Title: Relativism, objectivity and the politics of the past
Location: Netherlands
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology
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URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1311918
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