Race and Practice in Archaeological Interpretation
Publication Year: 2011
Scholars who investigate race—a label based upon real or perceived physical differences—realize that they face a formidable task. The concept has been contested and condoned, debated and denied throughout modern history. Presented with the full understanding of the complexity of the issue, Race and Practice in Archaeological Interpretation concentrates on the archaeological analysis of race and how race is determined in the archaeological record.
Most archaeologists, even those dealing with recent history, have usually avoided the subject of race, yet Charles E. Orser, Jr., contends that its study and its implications are extremely important for the science of archaeology. Drawing upon his considerable experience as an archaeologist, and using a combination of practice theory as interpreted by Pierre Bourdieu and spatial theory as presented by Henri Lefebvre, Orser argues for an explicit archaeology of race and its interpretation.
The author reviews past archaeological usages of race, including a case study from early nineteenth-century Ireland, and explores the way race was used to form ideas about the Mound Builders, the Celts, and Atlantis. He concludes with a proposal that historical archaeology—cast as modern-world archaeology—should take the lead in the archaeological analysis of race because its purview is the recent past, that period during which our conceptions of race developed.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Scholars who investigate race-a label that asserts the identification of individuals based upon real or perceived physical differences-realize that they face a formidable task. History records that learned academicians, committed political activists, well-intentioned relief workers, empowered citizens, and disfranchised outcasts have variously contested and ...
1. Problematizing Race in Archaeology
During a journey through Ireland in 1835, French traveler Gustave de Beaumont, who had recently returned to Europe after an extended sojourn in the United States, experienced a startling revelation. Prior to visiting Ireland, he had believed that the living conditions he had observed among the dispossessed Native Americans and enslaved Africans ...
2. The Prehistory of Race and Archaeological Interpretation, Part 1: Inventing Race for Archaeology
When considering an archaeological interpretation of race, it is instructive to retreat from the present and delve into archaeology's past. A withdrawal into archaeological history accomplishes two important tasks. First, it provides a perspective on the development of archaeological thought as it pertains to race and racialization, and second, it helps to ...
3. The Prehistory of Race and Archaeological Interpretation, Part II: Ethnicity over Race
Archaeologists have been interested in documenting the relationship between human variability and the material expressions of daily life ever since they realized that artifacts from the past could be visualized as more than historical documents. As an anthropological-historical approach gained acceptance in archaeology, greater numbers ofthe field's practitioners were compelled ...
4. Archaeological Interpretation and the Practice of Race
The previous chapters demonstrate that archaeologists have long experience handling the concept of race, even though their understandings of this important social variable have changed over time. Many late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century archaeologists were inspired by the period's neophyte physical anthropologists, and so they tended to envision race as a biological objectivity with concrete, readily identifiable ...
5. Materiality in the Practice of Race
The construction of past habitus, field, and capital for specific sociohistoric formations constitutes only half of the archaeological project. If social archaeologists cease their research with the modeling the social structure, no matter how complex the model may be, they are acting as historical sociologists and not archaeologists, even though the creation of the model is a necessary ...
6. A Case Study of Archaeology and the Practice of Race from Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland
The previous chapters have outlined one perspective that may be employed in the archaeological analysis of historic racialization. The chapters are intended to present overviews of the history of the archaeological analysis of race and to provide a coherent framework for conducting an archaeological interpretation of race that is both theoretically ...
7. Race, Practice, and Archaeology
The archaeological application of practice theory is only at the experimental stage. The novelty of this approach, especially as it pertains to the study of race-a topic that has yet to achieve prominence among archaeologists- mandates that this book must be viewed as an initial foray into a difficult and multifaceted realm of inquiry. Future archaeologists who ...
Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Archaeology, Culture, and Society
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