Session: #392

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Identity Politics and Culture(s) in Neolithic and Bronze Age Archaeology
Identity politics has taken a central place in contemporary political and cultural discourse. On the one hand, the concept can denote a political strategy that uses identity, increasingly weaponising it politically to suggest societal polarisation and social divides. On the other hand, some argue identity politics is a symptom of real socio-economic transformations taking place in modern society.
In Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeology we witness a wide range of material phenomena which frequently have been associated with identities on smaller and larger scales, such as the occurrence of megaliths and the emergence and spread of copper and bronze artefacts as well as phenomena like corded ware or bell beakers, just to name a few.
This session invites contributions to discuss identity politics from an archaeological perspective by means of specific case studies as well as theoretical contributions. Do we have examples of politicised identity in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe? What kind of social and cultural transformation trajectories do we witness in these cases? Which are the essential triggers and causes of transformation that can be identified in these case studies? What can we learn from prehistory with regard to modern day identity politics, and vice versa?
We also wish to see reflective, theoretical contributions looking at, for example, the relation and/or discrepancy between archaeological concepts of culture and identity. To what extent do these concepts in archaeology reflect the complexity of factors shaping contemporary identity politics? Conversely, do modern (Western) constellations provide a suitable frame of reference for studying these phenomena in prehistory? Can archaeological concepts of identity and culture be weaponised politically today?
Culture, Identity Politics, Bronze Age, Neolithic
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Main organiser:
VPJ Arponen (Germany) 1
Johanna Brinkmann (Germany) 1
Niels Johannsen (Denmark) 2
1. Kiel University
2. Aarhus University