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Changing archaeology's ‘brand’ would be helpful

  • Larry J. Zimmerman (a1)

González-Ruibal et al. raise challenging issues that seem frightening in their implications. In both their specificity and their wider theoretical contexts, I had previously given these issues little thought, and some I had not even recognised. I share fully the authors’ concern that archaeologists must seek ways to engage people influenced by ‘reactionary populism’, people who “are diverse, fragmented and complex”, and who may be “greedy, patriarchal, xenophobic or uninterested in the past” (González-Ruibal et al. above). The authors find fault with the multi-vocal, multi-cultural approaches of epistemic populist archaeologies that tend to exclude most of those who fit this description. I could object to some of the details of the authors’ critiques of epistemic populism and heritage studies, but their core arguments are mostly correct and powerful. At the same time, at least within a North American context, I think that archaeologists have generally reacted to the various populist pressures of the past century and that we have already started to do what the authors suggest.

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Buchli, V. 2007. Opinion. Conservation Bulletin 56: 14.
Holtorf, C. 2007. Archaeology is a brand! The meaning of archaeology in contemporary popular culture. Walnut Creek (CA): Left Coast.
Little, B.J. & Zimmerman, L.J.. 2010. In the public interest: creating a more activist, civically engaged archaeology, in Ashmore, W., Lippert, D. & Mills, B. (ed.) Voices in American archaeology: 131–59. Washington, D.C.: Society for American Archaeology.
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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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