An ethnography of “looting”: a case study in Kozani, Greece.

Current attempts to understand the phenomenon of “looting” encourage archaeologists to engage in ethnographic and anthropological research of “looting” activities. The inclusion of such interdisciplinary approaches causes the shift of inquiry from “looted” objects and illicit holes, to the people that are affected, and to the socio-political circumstances that promote and sustain such activities. Ethnographically informed studies of “looting” challenge the dichotomy between the “good” archaeologists against the “evil” looters. Moreover, they reveal the complexity of the phenomenon and promote the need to approach it contextually; they uncover the ways in which official archaeology is accountable for the political and social implications of its practices in relation to these so-called unethical activities.

This presentation belongs to this line of analytical inquiry. A number of ethnographic case studies are presented from the locale of Kozani in Greece. This research was instigated by the urge to uncover and understand the ways in which archaeology is evoked by individuals through their unofficial interaction with the material past and their confrontation of “official” instructions that often restrain peoples’ sense of archaeology to a distant gaze of window-sealed objects. It underlines what is unique in an ‘ethnographic’ archaeology – the possibility to see the diversity in which archaeology affects everyday life. In addition, it touches upon the methodological and theoretical anxieties, dilemmas and adjustments within a journey of introspection and interrogation of the power relations between the observer and the observed, archaeology and people.

Ioanna Antoniadou

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