We are excited to invite abstracts for our session at the Theoretical Archaeology Group (US) meeting 2014, which takes place 23-25 May 2014 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1195202).
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 21 MARCH 2014.
Interpreting the Deep Past: The Convergence of Material Remains, Myth and Memory
This panel invites papers that consider archaeology as the convergence of temporalities — that is, archaeology as memory, constantly interpreted and reinterpreted. How does the archaeologist cope with the palimpsest of matter and signification constituted by material remains? Suggested topics include: methods of preservation and presentation of archaeological heritage; object life-cycles and their implications for archaeological interpretation; and the influence of contemporary events on the interpretation of the past. Send abstracts of 300 words or less by March 21 to [email protected] and [email protected].
Abstract: In his introduction to The Dark Abyss of Time (English translation 2011; Le sombre abîme du temps, 2008), Laurent Olivier likens the practice of archaeology unto dreaming. Like dreams, the archaeological past is transient: “All that can be had from exhuming some memory of the past is a glimpse of it that is impossible to hold onto, and that dissipates irretrievably.” (Olivier 2011, xiv)
For Olivier, archaeology deals with a constantly shifting palimpsest of material snapshots layered over by memories, altered realities and the context of our own vantage point in the present. Thus, rather than recovering and representing the past in a unilinear, sequential and historicist fashion, the archaeologist, like the psychoanalyst, engages in the arduous process of teasing out tangled memories to uncover the meanings of things past. These memories are themselves interpretations of the past, kept alive through their continual transformation in the present. The archaeologist, then, deals not so much with history as with memory and its persistent, present and necessary reinterpretation.
For this panel, we invite papers that explore the past as a convergence of myth and memory from a variety of viewpoints. How does the archaeologist cope with the palimpsest of testimonies, snapshots and narratives offered by material remains? Suggested topics include:
- methods of preservation and presentation of archaeological heritage
- object life-cycles and their implications for archaeological interpretation
- the influence of contemporary events on the interpretation of the past.
Session notes: We invite 4-5 papers, 20 minutes in duration, that engage with this central question. We anticipate a 10-minute Q&A period to follow each of the papers, followed by a 30-minute period for remarks by a final discussant and open group discussion.