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Title: Is Narrative Necessary?
Authors: Pluciennik, Mark
First Published: 2010
Publisher: Waxmann on behalf of the University of Leipzig
Citation: Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift, 2010, 51 (1/2), pp. 48-63
Abstract: How important is traditional narrative structure (stories with an explicit beginning, middle and end) for archaeologists? To answer this question fully would demand attention to human and historical ontologies and archaeological epistemologies, as well as analysis of the kinds of pasts archaeologists prefer to present. In their favour it is here argued that historical narratives are generally complex (for example, in comparison with those preferred by practitioners of the hard sciences, who typically find reductionism the most powerful methodological tool). Narratives may even in some way map onto natural and common structures of human experience. But they also perhaps have a particular affinity to archaeological practices, with the chronological sequence of narrative reflecting in reverse order the process of actual or metaphorical excavation, and hence mimicking the reconstruction of a past told as cause and effect. Narratives can also offer a sense of coherence, resolution and closure, which may encourage a kind of intellectual conservatism. So too may socio-political pressures to conform with existing dominant narratives within the profession. However, despite the potential pitfalls of too strong an adherence to narrative form, and the values of alternative modes of presentation such as non-narrative evocation, it is suggested that narrative should remain an important style of archaeological explanation, albeit with a commitment to open-endedness and an awareness of the possibilities of life beyond narrative.
ISSN: 0012-7477
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2010 Waxmann.
Description: Metadata only entry
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Archaeology and Ancient History

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