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Leone

Leone

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Mark p,
LeoneUniversity
M
a
aryland, College
Park
415
s~':'
bo Iic, Structu ral,
Critical Archaeology
and
Introduct'
IOn
What
i
ymboli chchaeology)
C'
ar
neology,
slrucrural archaeology, and critical
ar-
d,lVen [hat
h
d'ff o they h) [ eyare
I
erenr approaches
10
archaeology what
. are.
And'
th '
umform given at rhese rwo approaches do not compose amovement
h
.L
[hem and ' '
w
at are we currents and cross-currents between
rnarn
(ream ar haeology'ymbolic arch
I '
ology
a
th
aeo
ogy, uucrural archaeology, and critical archae-
re ree qui
d'ff
of the'
uire
I
eren! approaches
to
archaeological data, NoneIradl'll,m
1 5 1
completely defined as yet, None groWS directly out of eitherona
(L
chall
thre
h
ea
197) or the new archaeology (Clarke 1973) and yet(hem
e
ave drawn ignificant artention, The archaeologists involved in
assu
appear to be involved in
rhe
same issues and operate with the same
Ke mpnon
(Hodder 1981a, Spriggs 1984; Miller 198
: z .
b; Moore and
. ene
198 ) AthaI h
3,
these approaches are being defined it is becoming dear
Pa
I ey are not necessarily headed for similar analyses (Bender 19
85,
nerson
8) I .
h
1 0'
19 4, t IS, however clear ro anyone who reads the arc
aeo-
~QII" '
me .
iterature
roday,
rhat
many archaeologistS are concerned with19;mng(Hodder 198
: z .
a, 1983), ideology (Kristainsen1984; Paynter
r ,; Handsrnan "'" ,,'" ,,',), ,o"cr."
(hl,dm"
and
R",",""
_~7,
Glassie
197" Freidel 19
81)
and CogmtlOn (Deetz 19
6
7)
In
pastsoo' ,,' Ieues, Ln order to approach such areas wroughthe archaeologica
," rd, id as, models and"""I.
hav .~
b"ro~d ,,' .,''''
rom ,Strll 1'lIr.lism, c gniriveanthropology, symbolic analysis, and
~'~"m
(B"
udri"'" ,,", G,,,,hIII ,,'" God,lIa ,,", ,,,,, M,d
assoux r97~; Wallerstein 1976), ' 'Symbolic, structural, and crirical archaeology are chosen
10
thIS es-
 
416 
American Archaeology Past and Futur
Leone
Symbolic, Structural, and CriticalArchaeology
417
say because their spokespersons are increasingly vocal and widely read,and because their differences are not as clear within the field as theyshould be. The point of this essay is not to address the origins of theseapproaches, whether they are mainly American or British, nor to identifyschools of thought associated with universities or with particular schol-ars. The point is to identify the basic assumptions and to see how theyare expressed in the five illustrations discussed and quoted below.I, f I hich sees people as actors,This is the recursive qua
rty a
cu ture, w ,, d
teri
al culture
In
contextsymbols as central to human existence, an rna en .,. . to order human
life,
as analogous to language
In
Its capacity d "
I
hi
d b
li
truetura] an cnncaThe second crucial issue be
In
sym a IC,s 'h
ki d
' All proaches deny t e
In
0
archaeology is an emphasis on mearung. ap .
ith
ht be assocIated Wit
I
e newmaterialism which has over the years come a
I' Wh'
Julian. b ' d from Les
re rte,
archaeology. As materialism was
In
enre Vavd d a' H . and A
P
vay
a, anSteward, reinterpreted through Marvin ,arns f" f determin-, h
I
It
became a arm ahost of other, largely Amencan, sc oars, ,
th
I'
ts
and all
B ' . h cial
an
ropo ogis
ism that has been avoided by most pns so .'
hi
h has been re-
I'
Th atenaltsm w ICAmerican symbolic anthropo ogists. e m
h
II's that which. . ) d .tical arc aeo ogy
iected
by symbohc (Hodder 198
5
an cn
I' I
t hnologl'cal and. . f f 'from eCO
ogtcar,
ec ,
IS
seen as a hierarchy a actors
going .'
d to a vaguelyde-d' .' .
I
orgamzatlon, anemographlc considerations to SOCIafined ideological or religious organization.
I
h last twenty years'
, 'I .
archaeo ogy, t e
h
In a concrete historica sense
In
d rive studies of t edhrkably pro ucprogress has revolved aroun t e
rema
d'
I
foods and the
, d lant
an
aruma , d
natural environment, domesticate
P I
ort reproduce, an
, d
to supp
y ,
supp , tools, shelters, and techniques use I While sometimesta -. d whole cu ture. hcontrol a population, socrety, an a li haeology rejectSt e rna-ing potshots at these achievements, symbo ICarfcd
ily
life, deliberate at-, . . . he context
0
al
th
hrtenaltsm that Ignores meamng, r nd the whole world a ,oug~tempts to manipulate social relanons, a r981) of ermcal arOn the other hand, the sources (Habermahs r~~:;s do not renounce ate from teO, . wherechaeology which are here separa that in any SOCiety, h logy argues rh func-materialist tradition. Such arc aeo
1
'tatl'on to expeersmo
OI
. . fl' t or exp
OJ ,
'maJor parthere are contrad,cnons, con IC, I did is
to
mISSatharchaeo ogy, hural sysremtioning or adaptation as e new h' rhe parr of a cu. fljer
' h
mee anJS
ffi,
,tlve con
of the culture. Ideology ISt e , . ns and thus prevents a Ideologythat hides or masks the contradlCBrlO
'rt
and Silverman 1979)'h rent or7r' arne . any co efrom occurring (Althusserr9 ' d' archaeology
10
b n define
In
has, until recently, never ee h oJogy?Is it
. I
~w~ae ,
opera nona way. , d b these approacd here is cause,How is culture conceive y, What inreracts an w 8..a' TilleyI'k language. . (MIller r9' levels, a system, or I e b I' archaeologistS f r a pictUre adh Ym a IC f rence
0 ,
Barrett (n.d.) an t e s, f levels in pre e b moment baSIS.'d h notion
0
oment y . d 'Jyr982, 1984) avOl t e 'terealityonam. 'ons) sbapmg alpeople using symbols ro negotlaf symbolS (OppOSltld Scbele
(in
press)berent set
0
F eldel anStructuralists see a co d beloWfrom rlife, but in the examples use
Four Issues
These three initiatives in archaeology can be understood by reference
to
four issues. The first one is the interactive or recursive quality of culture.Rather than supposing that culture, including the rules, behavior, andthings produced, is borne by people in a fairly passive and unaware fash-ion, the assumption is that people create, use, modify, and manipulatetheir symbolic capabilities, making and remaking the world they live in.This does not necessarily mean the capacity to dominate, control, or evento change culture in directive or politically forceful ways.
It
is, however,an effon to see that, like language, its use shapes our lives, and our liveswould be shapeless without it. The major impact in archaeology of thisviewpoint comes in regarding material culture as an instrument in cre-ating meaning and order in the world (Conkey 1982; Donley 1982; Kus1982; Moore 1982; Parker Pearson 1982), and not solely as the reflec-tion of economics, social organization, or ideology.The importance of this point is well developed by John Barren wboattempts
to
adapt Giddens (1979, 1981, r982a, 1982b) to archaeology.One attempt to break with functionalism involves shifting the focusof analysis from the consequences of human action to the intentionsand motivations of that action .... In the theory of structuratlOn,Giddens employs an analytical frame of the "time-space contin-uum" within which the actions of knowledgeable human subjectsreproduce the institutional conditions of their own existence. Gid-dens means ... discursive knowledge (which) encompass[es] thepractical knowledge of "how to go on" ... , it is knowledge whICh
IS
drawn upon for, and reproduced in, human action. Here the sub-Jects draw upon their reflexive experience of an objective world,whIChappears constituted as a meaningful cultural resource, and actupon those same external conditions to reproduce and t!ansformthem, bequeathIng the results of that action as the condItIons forfuture action [Barrett n.d.:
5-
9
J .
 
418 
American Archaeology Past and Future 
Leone
Symbolic. Structural. and Critical Archaeology
419
and Deetz (1977; 1983) we can see they are not so concerned with howthe oppositions are affected by use. For their part, critical archaeologistsdo conceive of levels in the Marxist sense, but see ideology as powerfulin maintaining society, its coherence, and its continuity: ideology is whatreproduces society intact.The third issue that helps to define both symbolic and critical ar-chaeology is a critique of the function of the past and scientific knowl-edgeof it in society. Symbolic (Shanks and Tilley in press) and criticalarchaeology (Gero et al. 1983; Leone 198ra, 198Ib; Meltzer 1981) as-sert the active role of the past in the society that is interested in it. Bothapproaches assert that the past, whether it be known through the sci-ences of the past, the vernacular media, myth, or through museums, isan active vehicle for communicating and composing meanings. Neitherposition will allow archaeology to assert scientific neutrality, or its roleas the objective producer of accurate knowledge about the past (Wylie1981,1985), or even as a socially irrelevant
pursuit,
Symbolic archaeol-ogy asserts that since the past is a social creation, and that because itexists in most societies in endless variations, and further, that becausearchaeology produces one of these variations, the priviliged status of 
ar-
chaelogy must be examined for its own good. Where does its right todominate come from? Why is the archaeological interpretation consid-ered the only correct one?Critical archaeology forcefully asserts with Marx that history is al-ways produced in the service of class interests (Bloch 1977; Gero 1983;Wobst 1983). Furthermore, it asserts that appeals to scientific objectivityare likely to obfuscate discussion of the assumption of objectivity. Thus,an exploration of the political function of archaeology may produce botha consciousness of the social function of archaeology as well as a set oquestions for archaeology to address that may be of greater social bene-fit. Thus, while symbolic archaeology on the one hand is aware that thepast is a social construct and is just as dynamic a part of culture as lan-guage, critical archaeology, on the other hand, sees history as ideology,and likely to be pernicious if ignored. Therefore, attention to archaeolo-gy's ideological status may produce important, archaeologically answer-able questions.Fourth, from within symbolic archaeology has come a serious denialof the place of positivism in archaeological science (Hodder 1982a;MIller and Tilley 1984). Within critical archaeology the critique is lesssevere in its implications and more hopeful of sustaining the tradition of the later sixties and seventies. Symbolic archaeology is not willing togrant a culture-free status to the self-proclaimed self-watching abilitiesof Western scientific logic. There are two points: an unaware science IS
, , 1
F
herv
si th d I'S
itself 
of cultural
Ignorantof Its own ellture. urt
er, since
me 0 .
origin, it may ultimately not be possible
to
create or depend on a SCiencef hhan a srronz
i
t rpretatlon. ThIS doesate past to produce any more t an a strong me,
. I
b
it
d '
I
that any SCiencethatnot Imply that all pasts are equa, ut It oes Imp y ,b
I', ,
in
th
I I
traditions or
rn
the
law -
e ieves
itself 
to be active
I".
t e cross-cu tura ,,'
di
h ds an examlOatlOn of ItSsearching tradition, or in the
tra inon
t at regar ,
bii di
, '1
hilosophy IS
in
109
connection with modern society as mere
socia
p , ', , ' f h I y' we and our
insn-
Itself to the fundamental
proposincn
0
ant ropo og "
1
d' t outside of cu
rure.
tutions are cultural creations, and we
0
not exrs
I I
f m thedi d
i
If
so
cornp ere
y
roCritical archaeology has not
rvorce itse ,
d the last twenty years
m
emphasis on scientific method develope over s that the
, I»'
h larly context meanarchaeology. The word
"critica
In any sc a , f h discipline and. ' d d'scovenes
0
t e
relations
between the assumptIons an I d b,'ect
to
exami-
hei , . I
cern an are
su
t
err
ties to modern life are a centra con ,
lly
sub)'ects the
, h .
tion
automatIca
nanon
(Habermas 1971).
Sue
examma,
di
line
to
questions
di .
science
or iSCIPquestions, methods, and Iscovenes a
a
d i
the questions,
influ-
which ask how the scientist's surroundl".gs hlctate It or more usually,
. ith
r
t
e resu
S ,
ence the method, and predetermme
ei e
I irical
studies do not
. . . . N netheess, en
1 .'
their meaning and InterpretatIon,
0
t-nce
or disclphne. The
, ' h
t
of a serenehope for or cause the Impovens men
ictsrn
nor a pointless rela-, 'd b'l' s eptlCISPOint is to produce neither a e i ,tatlngtivism. , ' h symbolic archaeologists, k d by Bntls H ddThe most prominent war one f Northwest Europe.
0
eris with different aspects of the BronzeAge
0
8 ) Shennan (1982), Kns-(I982b), Shanks and Tilley (1982) Till;y (~~v: t~ken a stratified sOCIerytiansen (1984), and Parker Pearson (19 4) ccess
to
wealth, and asked" k d differences m a 'I es of the
I".
whIch there were mar e t d The" ana ys, 'd d and perpetua e . 'I soeiatedhow was power JustIfie , use , t that the r"ua s asBAge suggesf I
to
con-standard remains of the ronze, sed by the power u, h'd t nstls were u h lations Ipwith burials, barrows, an u e, f equality when t at re I eI h eXistence
0
h na yses arvince the less powerfu
0
t e b ' ssumptions in t ese a d but, ' 'h' The asIC a or gOO s,was actually dlmllllSmg, al access
to
power" ' i'Sab d on unequ d S atlficalionthat stratification was ase b ' tified or maske. tr , h
I
some, 'd must e JUs tIOn IS
I•
Is always tentative an , h' The second assump d obablyd' bl elatIOns Ip. 'I n be use , prynamoc, not a sta e, r , ted with buna , ca, f he situationI'k h se assOCiah ' lice
0
tmaterial items, let
0,
II involved of t e JUS , society in-
. . nVloce a
d
continue
I".
mu al contextS,
to
co ,
1
conflict, an SO
to
I, potentiaand thus to neutra Ize

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