Session: #360

Theme & Session Format

Archaeological theory and methods beyond paradigms
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Is Archaeology Practical?
Can archaeology become a place of resistance in terms of becoming-revolutionary and becoming-ethical?
In 1933, explicitly responding to Hitler’s ‘take-over of power’, Vere Gordon Childe addressed the political reality of his time and asked: “Is Prehistory Practical?” Driven by his own unrest, he wrote that: “in 1933 it can hardly be alleged that Prehistory is a useless study, wholly remote from and irrelevant to practical life” (Childe 1933: 410), and it was by addressing his reality – his actuality – that he pointed to the political and ethical conditions of archaeology’s place in contemporaneity. Thus, the issue raised in “Is Prehistory Practical?” encompasses not only resistance to the present but both the diagnosis of archaeology’s inadequacy when facing its time and the creative prognosis for its actual becoming-other, even if that is uncertain. Whether in 1933 or now, Childe’s question points towards the thought of resistance as a response that is both political and ethical.
The thought of resistance resists representation as it is not simply the inverted image of power, and neither embodies a form of non-power, or is radically liberating. Resistance is a mode of existence: becoming-always and already. Resistance is an act of creation: political, ontological, aesthetical and ethical. Therefore, resistance is an inventive practice of new knowledge and meanings yet to come via diversity, multiplicity and the destruction of identity as representation. Resistance is untimely. In this sense, how can we make archaeology practical? How can we respond as present-becoming? How can we make it untimely?
We are interested in critically approaching archaeology as a place for practical invention. As an always-experimental process of learning, in which materials from the past are an endless source of knowing and acting upon our historical conditions. We encourage contributions from different theoretical and political perspectives, and distinct chronologies.
Resistance, Contemporaneity, Future-oriented ethics, Becoming-other, Revolution
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Joana Alves - Ferreira (Portugal) 1,2
Ana Vale (Portugal) 3,4
Helena Barbosa (Portugal) 3,4
Leilane Lima (Brazil) 5
1. Centre of Studies in Archaeology, Arts and Heritage Sciences (CEAACP)
2. University of Coimbra
3. Transdisciplinary Research Centre: Culture, Space and Memory (CITCEM)
4. University of Porto
5. MAE-USP, University of São Paulo