I viewed this review project as an opportunity to assess the degree to which archaeologists have been able to transcend what Gary Feinman (Eurasia at the dawn of history, p. 146) refers to as “impenetrable academic silos and rigid adherence to entrenched ideas”. Happily, I found ample evidence of transcendence, with the exception of Modes of production and archaeology. Historians properly recognise Karl Marx as an important contributor to Western thought in a time of economic turmoil one and a half centuries ago. Especially, his efforts to motivate opposition to an exploitative economic system are highly regarded—I, for one, have made a pilgrimage to view his work-space in the British Museum reading room. And I agree that ideas influenced by Marx and Engels (considering the work of Childe, White, Wittfogel, Polanyi and the like) have been so thoroughly internalised that they amount to a kind of “disciplinary common sense” (in the introductory chapter by Robert Rosenswig and Jerimy Cunningham, p. 1), perhaps better characterised as ‘entrenched ideas’. From the perspective of contemporary anthropological theory, however, I find it difficult to understand why researchers might insist on bringing notions from Marx and Engels directly into today's archaeological thinking and practice, but this is exactly what most of the contributors to Modes of production and archaeology have done.
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