Call for papers from the Archaeological Review from Cambridge
Archaeology: Myths within and without
Volume 30.2, November 2015
Theme editors: Barbora Janulikova (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ben Hinson (email@example.com)
As a discipline, archaeology is heavily affected by mythology. This is true within the field itself, perpetuated by the often persistent opinion gap between theoreticians and archaeologists more rooted in the field or material studies. Equally, archaeological methods are not spared stigmas and subsequent mythisisations, for example when careful stratigraphic excavating replaced the large-scale unearthing approach of the nineteenth and early twentieth century (in fact still practised in many areas of the world).
The effect of mythology also holds for how archaeology is understood by the wider public. It is often viewed as having a certain mystique, perpetuated both by fictional icons such as Lara Croft and Indiana Jones, but also by so-called ‘pseudo-archaeologists’ and their often controversial ideas—most famously Erich von Däniken’s theories of ‘ancient astronauts’. This is of course a double-edged sword, in that it brings archaeology into the public consciousness and imagination, but also creates misunderstandings about the work, methods and goals of archaeologists, and the importance of the discipline as a whole. Similarly, the nature of archaeology is often seen through a ‘mythological’ lens by other academic disciplines. Is it a science or a humanity? The nature and purpose of archaeology has been reconsidered many times over the years—recently, figures such as Holtorf have argued that archaeology should consider itself a ‘brand’, to take advantage of public feeling and best diminish the gap between public perceptions and understanding. The nature of work and funding means archaeology has had to take on an increasingly public face and role in recent times, which has changed the very nature of how it is communicated to the world. ‘Outreach’ is now a key buzzword in archaeological discourse, and how best to provide it is an ever-evolving debate. These are all topics at the forefront of modern archaeology, and can only benefit from a collected body of academic opinions and experiences.
We invite contributors to explore the topic of ‘archaeological myths’, in all of its meanings. We encourage paper abstracts discussing the theme from numerous view points, including (but not limited to) those suggested below.
- Friction between archaeologists and the public.
This can be most clearly seen due to so-called ‘pseudo-scientific’ literature. What are the effects of such literature? Is it inherently problematic or does it hold any value? Are its limitations solvable? How should problems with such literature best be approached, and how are they best explained to the public?
- Myths, problems and stereotypes within the discipline of archaeology.
Can we see any problems in archaeological theory and methodology that persevere (for example uniformitarianism, simplification of evidence and interpretation, problematic use of methods, lack of interdisciplinarity?)
- The myth of ‘archaeology’.
Debunking popular stereotypes, such as how archaeology is viewed as a field, or discussing any aspects of the discipline itself (from salary to the lifestyle of an archaeologist, the nature of and life at excavations, etc). Do fictitious depictions of archaeology and archaeology affect public perceptions of the discipline?
- The politics of archaeology.
How has archaeology been used (or misused) to perpetuate myths by peoples and nations, for example justifying occupation of territories, or the importance of certain peoples over others?
- Justifying archaeology as a discipline.
Is archaeology well-respected compared to other academic fields? How should archaeology view and market itself? What is its place amongst the sciences and humanities? What direct impact (academically, socially and economically) can archaeology have on current society? How can we reason its importance against the argument of ‘science for its own purpose’?
- The question of outreach.
What is the importance of engagement in the modern world? How has the nature of outreach changed over time? What are the limitations of current approaches to communication, and how could these be bettered?
Please send an abstract of not more than 500 words to Ben Hinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Barbora Janulíková (email@example.com) by the 31st October 2014. Abstracts will be selected based on certain criteria – relevance to the volume theme, originality and interest of research, and clarity of thought. Successful applicants will be notified, and first drafts of papers (not exceeding 4000 words) will be due 15th January 2015, for publication in November 2015. Style guidelines and notes for contributors can be found at http://www.societies.cam.ac.uk/arc/contribute.html.
The Archaeological Review from Cambridge is a not-for-profit journal managed and published on a voluntary basis by postgraduate archaeology research students at the University of Cambridge. Issues are published twice a year. Although primarily rooted in archaeological theory and practice, the ARC accommodates a wide range of perspectives in the hope of establishing a strong, interdisciplinary journal which will be of interest to those engaged in a range of fields, and therefore breaking down some of the boundaries that exist between disciplines.