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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is intended to outline the main postmodern theoretical influences in archaeology. Although it may be difficult to identify a distinct postmodern strand of archaeology, it is apparent that there are trends and issues within archaeological theory that are clearly influenced by postmodern lines of thought. One example is the issue of relativity of ‘facts’ and historicity of interpretations stressed by many post-processual archaeologists. This ambivalence regarding archaeological data has for some led to a loss of faith in archaeology’s abilities to say something definitive about the past. For others, it has initiated critical discussions of how, and under what conditions, narratives of the past are produced. For instance, there has been an increasing concern with ethical issues and the political use of archaeology (e.g. heritage management, local and indigenous archaeologies, the repatriation of objects and human remains). Archaeology in the postmodern condition is thus principally characterized by increasing diversity in subject areas and theory, but also by a broader definition of the discipline and its roles in contemporary society.

Keywords: postmodernism, post-structuralism, grand narratives, multivocality, heterogeneity, relativism

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