Archaeological Ethnographies: Charting a field, devising methodologies

A “Kalaureia Research Programme” Workshop, supported by the Municipality of Poros and the University of Southampton

Poros Island, Greece, 6-8 June 2008

Organisers: Yannis Hamilakis and Aris Anagnostopoulos (University of Southampton, UK)


In the last few years, an increasing number of researchers has started engaging in projects that are situated at the interface between socio-cultural anthropology and archaeology, aimed at investigating the links between material heritage in general, archaeology, and the various non-archaeological communities associated with them. It seems that these projects signify the emergence of a new field which is distinct from the now established fields of socio-politics of the past, community and public archaeology, and the ethnography of archaeological practice, although it is related to the above fields in significant ways.


It appears, however, that this emerging area is still searching for the most appropriate research methodologies. While ethnography is the generic term often used both in the definition of this field and as its main methodological procedure, it is becoming clear that this research area in quite distinctive from both the standard socio-cultural anthropological research, and the archaeological inquiry as practiced to date. This workshop brings together researchers formally trained in archaeology or in anthropology but who share an active research interest in this emerging field of study; they are united by their desire to explore similar research questions, to do primarily with materiality and temporality, and with the social and political effects of practices and discourses such as western, modernist archaeology.


While some workshops with a similar angle and remit have already taken place in the recent past (and several of our invitees have been the initiators or the participants in these important occasions), these have been more broad in terms of theme, and more specific in terms of geographical focus, covering mostly the Americas, and occasionally some other non-European contexts. This workshop is linked to an archaeological project based in Europe (The Kalaureia Research Programme) but aims to be at the same time focused in terms of its theme, and inclusive and global in terms of its geographical coverage: it will explore primarily the question of methodologies, although inevitably, questions of ontology and epistemology, as well as ethics and politics will be touched upon; and it will bring together the experience of colleagues from non-European contexts, combined with the experience in Europe with its distinctive problems, but also the rich insights deriving from intensive archaeological and anthropological investigation, and the legacy of colonialism and nationalism.


Some of the questions to be explored are:

-What are the main methodologies that archaeological ethnography is currently using, and what are the problems associated with them?

-How can we devise ethnographic methodologies which place materiality and time at the centre of enquiry?

-What does it mean for a researcher trained in archaeology to engage in archaeological ethnography, and how does an anthropologically trained researcher engage with issues of material heritage and the politics of archaeological activity?

-What form should multi-sited archaeological ethnographies take?


The workshop will take the format of a two-day (6-7th June 2008), intensive discussion of pre-circulated papers. The final day will be devoted to public talks and tours of the archaeological site for the local communities.


Deadline for the submission of abstracts: end of December 2007; deadline for the submission of pre-circulated papers (in draft form): end of March 2008

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