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Title: An archaeology of cultural identity
Authors: Hides, Shaun.
Award date: 1998
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This thesis addresses the problematic issues of the relationship between artefacts and collective identity in the study of the past. It examines how one current strand of contemporary archaeological theory attempts to recover the truth of the identities of peoples in the past, by utilising a form of interpretation derived from semiotics and idealism, to 'read' their artefactual traces. The conception of cultural identity utilised by contextualism (post-processualism) is re-examined in three ways.;Firstly, the central concepts of these approaches are critically examined in terms of their dependence on, and constitution in, contemporary theoretical discourse, utilising an approach influenced by the strategies of the post-structuralist authors which post-processualism has itself enlisted in support of its interpretative approaches.;Secondly, the practices and concepts which support current archaeological conceptions of cultural identity are re-examined in an historical account of their emergence and transformation since the Renaissance derived from the archaeological and genealogical strategies of Michel Foucault. This demonstrates the extent to which conceptions of the identities of the peoples of the past, from those of Antiquarians to contemporary archaeological theorists, have consistently been projections, or reconstruction, of contemporary views of identity. This seeks to show that such conceptions are historically determined and specific whilst claiming to transcend and recover history.;Thirdly, current archaeological conceptions of cultural identity are juxtaposed against an account of the forms of cultural identification in the contemporary Indian communities of Leicester. This is undertaken in order to demonstrate the cultural specificity of archaeological notions of cultural identity. The implication of this critique is the acknowledgement that descriptions of past cultures are constructions incorporating artefacts within a theorised framework which includes conceptions of identity. These conceptions and accounts of past cultures are artefacts produced in the present, not recoveries of a 'real' past.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Archaeology and Ancient History
Leicester Theses

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