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CALL. 15.12.2016: Power and Authority: An archaeologist´s friend or foe - Groningen (Netherlands)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Groningen University (Groningen, Netherlands)


INFO: call - web -


Our conference will debate the conceptualisation of power and elites in archaeological theory and how the archaeological record potentially reflects them. We invite papers to reflect on the following three topics:

From data to hierarchies:

Archaeologists have demonstrated a vast variety of methods in order to identify elites. How should we define elites and social inequality? Are power and status reflected in the archaeological record? How do we make the interpretive step from our archaeological data to the social reality of the past? What assumptions guide these theories and are they justified in their considerations? For this session we invite contributions that reflect on bridging the gap between archaeological data and social hierarchies.

Power to the people:

Theoretical discussions have conveniently assumed the existence of institutionalised, hereditary leadership. In doing so, a different, more complex and potentially more viable past reality is overlooked. Are Elite-models an excuse to ignore the complex reality of the past by offering a one-fits-all solution to project onto our archaeological data? How do we account for the influence of non-elites on the past? Where does the agency of the lower strata fit in? For this session we invite contributions that reflect on theoretical considerations towards hierarchies and how they potentially distort past social reality.

Selling the elite to a modern audience (translating theory to the public):

Modern (lay) audiences often only encounter archaeology in a museum context, where considerable resources are committed to presenting archaeology. Elites often take a central role in translating complex archaeological debates to concepts that are easily grasped by and evoke the interest of the public. This is often accomplished by displaying shiny objects, which limits the range of stories a museum can convey. How does this influence and reflect on theoretical debates and practice in archaeology?

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