Wenner Gren Workshop 2005
"The Public Meanings of the Archaeological Past:
Sociological Archaeology and Archaeological Ethnography"
Quetzil E. CASTAÑEDA & Christopher N. MATTHEWS, Organizers
Pisté and Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, México.
June 1-5, 2005
OSEA-The Open School of Ethnography
and Anthropology, Institutional Sponsor
1. Paradigms and Practices of Archaeology and
discuss foundational conceptions of Archaeology in different
registers, such as Archaeology as a Science, Discipline, Governmentalist
Institution, Public Sphere, and as a Media Apparatus. Does archaeology
need ethnography, if so why and how? What is the history of archaeologists’
changing conceptions of their identity, status, and work as science?
In what sense/s is archaeology sociological? Does the conception
of archaeology as sociology entail any changes in the forms, modes,
ethics, and research practices of archaeology? In what forms has
an archaeological consciousness and reflexivity existed or functioned?
How can a conception of archaeology as sociological change the forms
and modes of interacting with and engaging diverse publics? What
is “public” about Public Archaeology and what is the “beyond” of public
Present and discuss foundational
conceptions of Ethnography: What are some relevant paradigmatic
conceptions and models of ethnographic research that are viable for
articulation with archaeology? What are the current debates on issues
of critical-reflexivity, applied and action research, postcolonial
methodologies, representation, and how do these intersect or relate
to the questions that archaeologists have about the sociological foundations
of their subfield? Can ethnography be the social and ethical “consciousness”
of archaeology and what would that mean? What are the possible meanings
and values of the notion of an “ethnography of archaeology”?
2. Archaeological Ethnography, Model I: Archaeology
Present and discuss conceptions
of archaeology as an object of study. What kind of object of study is archaeology
and what are appropriate forms of studying this object? What kinds
of socio-cultural analyses of archaeology are possible when archaeology
is considered to be as a science, as public/social institution, as
discourses of identity, and as the producer/production of heritage?
What role can ethnography play in the study of archaeology? How can
this ethnographic study of archaeology be incorporated into the “normal
science” practice of archaeological research and formulation of research
problems? What value do these analyses and this ethnographic research
have for the development of archaeology as a scientific discipline,
institution, and practice that is engaged with diverse publics and
3. Archaeological Ethnography, Model II: Archaeology
Present and discuss the “ethnography”
that already inhabits and operates in archaeology in the actual practices and conduct of research.
What kinds of “ethnography” do archaeologists “do” in the conduct
and realization of archaeological research projects? Can archaeologists
do a kind of informal and practical “auto-ethnography” of their own
research projects? What are the sociological bases, conflicts, negotiations,
and dynamics of research in terms of relations with resident communities
and heritage descendent communities? What are the publics of archaeology
and are these conceptually and/or on-the-ground different from stakeholders?
What publics and stakeholders are engaged or not engaged by archaeologists,
and why? What are the social and political constraints of research?
How are these constraints also enabling conditions that shape or channel
knowledge production? How can the ethnographic study and knowledge
of these conditions become a part of the research process? Is it
feasible for archaeologists do more formally conduct and publish on
their practical, and on-going “ethnographic” research that enables
the realization of research projects? What political and ethical
dilemmas are implicated in such a possibility?
4. Archaeological Ethnography, Model III: Archaeology
Present and discuss ways
in which archaeology can incorporate ethnography and ethnographers
into research design. What kinds of ethnography can be conducted or incorporated “within”
archaeology? What kinds of knowledge can ethnography prouce that
is relevant to the research design and problems of study? Is it necessary,
beneficial, harmful, and/or deleterious for one or more ethnographers
to become incorporated into archaeological research projects? What
functions could they serve? What kinds of conflicts interest might
emerge from such collaboration and/or incorporation? Would these
be structural conflicts or based on more contingent factors, such
as personality and theoretical frameworks? Is there a way to do the
ethnography of archaeology as part of archaeology research processes?
What are the limits and benefits? What are the epistemological implications,
difficulties and/or (im)possibilities of such a conjoining of ethnography
into archaeological research? How would ethnography serve to mediate
competing interest groups, stakeholders, and publics?
5. Defining Vision & Agenda of a “ Sociological
Archaeology”: Syntheses & Critical Reflection
Present and discuss syntheses
and critical reflections. Develop conclusions and formalize these into programmatic statements
of actual and future possibilities of a sociological archaeology and
archaeological ethnography. Is there a need for archaeological ethnography?
What actually existing forms of archaeological ethnography are there?
What are their limits and potentials? What beneficial and detrimental
role might ethnography play as mediator of archaeological publics
and stakeholders? Can models and guidelines be established for the
incorporation or articulation of ethnographers into archaeological
research projects? How might the possibility of an “archaeological
ethnography” transform the very conception of what is archaeology
as a science?