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Society for American Archaeology

Rifts in the Theoretical Landscape of Archaeology in the United States: A Comment on


Hegmon and Watkins
Author(s): Madonna L. Moss
Source: American Antiquity, Vol. 70, No. 3 (Jul., 2005), pp. 581-587
Published by: Society for American Archaeology
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RIFTS IN THE THEORETICAL LANDSCAPE OF ARCHAEOLOGY IN
THE UNITED STATES:A COMMENT ON HEGMON AND WATKINS

MadonnaL. Moss

Recentpapers by Michelle Hegmon(2003) and Joe Watkins(2003) purport to "mapthe terrain" of NorthAmericanarchae-
ology. Yetthese two metaphoricalmaps present very differentviews of the contours of NorthAmerican archaeology. Taken
together,the two papers highlightproblematic divisions between (1) theory and practice in North American archaeology,
and (2) academic archaeology and cultural resource management.Whatare the roles archaeological theoryplays in the
contemporarypractice of archaeology? Whydo discussions of archaeological theory have so little to offer stakeholders
other than academic archaeologists? Although Hegmon has shown many areas of convergence in archaeological theory,
her depiction of "processual-plus"archaeologies dulls the edge of postprocessual critiques of the processual status quo. I
argue thatfeminist, Marxist, and postcolonial archaeologies cannot be subsumedby this label because some of theirprac-
titioners aspire to contributeto social change beyond the realm of archaeology itself Thesepractitioners realize that the
practice of archaeology always has political consequences, not just for academic archaeologists, butfor a diverse set of
stakeholders.

Los ensayos recientesde Michele Hegmon (2003) y de Joe Watkins(2003) pretenden "trazarel terreno"de la arqueologia
norteamericana.Con todo, estos dos mapas metaforicospresentan vistas muy diversas de los contornos de la arqueologia
norteamericana.Tornados juntos, los dos ensayos destacanlas divisionesproblemdticasentre(1) teoriay prdctica en la arque-
ologia norteamericana,y (2) arqueologiaacademica y el manejode recursosculturales.i Cudles son los roles que la teoria
arqueologicajuegaen la prdctica contempordneade la arqueologia? i?or que las discusionesde la teoria arqueologicatienen
tanpoco para ofrecera los interesadoscon excepcionde arqueologosacademicos? AunqueHegmonha demostradomuchas
areas de convergenciaen las teorias arqueologicas,su descripcion de las arqueologias "processual-plus"amortiguaelfilo
de las criticas "post-processuales"del status quo "processual."Yoargumentoque las arqueologiasfeminista, Marxista,y
post-colonial no puedan ser confinadaspor esta etiqueta,porque algunos de sus practicantesaspiran a contribuiral cambio
social mas alia del dmbitomismode la arqueologia.Estos practicantesse dan cuenta que la prdctica de la arqueologiatiene
siempreconsecuenciaspoliticas, no solamentepara los arqueologosacademicos, sino tambien para una variedadde intere-
sados.

the recent special section of this journal, In the same sectionof thejournal,Joe Watkins
"Mappingthe Terrainof AmericanistArchae- (2003) describessome of the fault lines that still
ology," Michelle Hegmon (2003) presents a separateNativeAmericansandFirstNationsfrom
comprehensibletaxonomyand useful analysisof archaeologists.His perspectiveon the contempo-
recenttheoreticaltrendsandtopicalissuesin North rarypracticeof archaeologyin NorthAmericais
Americanarchaeology.Hegmon'stone is produc- moreguardedandpessimisticthanthatof Hegmon.
tive andoptimistic;she writes, Watkinswrites,

many NorthAmericanarchaeologistshave [u]ntil archaeologists more fully involve


pushedtheirtheoreticalegos to the side, and Indigenous populations in collaborative
arenot excessivelyattachedto or dismissive researchandareableto representmorefully
of any particularapproach,and seem to be Indigenous issues, American Indians and
opento multiplewaysof viewingthepast CanadianFirst Nations will continueto be
Instead of theoretical animosity, there is second-classcitizensin theculturalresources
refreshingdialogue[Hegmon2003:233]. worldof NorthAmerica,andwill continueto
Madonna L. Moss Departmentof Anthropology,1218 Universityof Oregon,Eugene, OR 97403
(mmoss@darkwing.uoregon.edu)

AmericanAntiquity,70(3), 2005, pp. 581-587


Copyright2005 by the Society for AmericanArchaeology

581

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582 AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 70, No. 3, 2005]

feel theyareoutsidersin a systemsupposedly association with the diversity of approaches


designedto protecttheir heritage[Watkins enveloped under the postprocessualistmoniker.
2003:283]. This word choice also indicateslatentskepticism
towardpostprocessualarchaeologiesandthedeep-
Thereis surprisinglylittle overlapin the con- seatedfear that some versionsof postprocessual-
tentof Hegmon'sandWatkins'sarticles.Why this ism threaten the foundations of a "scientific"
lackof topicaloverlap,andwhy sucha markeddis- archaeology(butsee VanPoolandVanPool1999).
crepancyin tone?Why is Hegmonrelativelypos- I do notattributesuchskepticismorfearto Michelle
itive andoptimistic,while Watkinsis morecritical Hegmon,butobservethatthe termshe has coined
andpessimistic?I suggestthe differencesbetween avoidsevokingthese feelings in others.The term
these two contributionsare not due simply to the does have the resultof obfuscatingandgeneraliz-
authors'differentfoci or standpoints.In this com- ing the genesis of manynew (andsome recycled)
ment,I explainwhy thesedifferencesareemblem- ideas thathave enlivenedarchaeologicaltheoryin
aticof: (1) theproblematicgapbetweentheoryand recentyears.The specific trajectoriesof theoreti-
practicein NorthAmericanarchaeology,and (2) cal developmentareblurredandideas originating
the unfortunateanddivisivechasmthatstill exists in entirelydifferentparadigmsarelumpedtogether.
between academic archaeology and cultural It would appearthata personcan "update"her or
resource management. Hegmon's category of his theoreticalstancesimply by appropriating the
"processual-plus" providesa useful startingpoint latestbuzzwordsandcatchphrases(althoughHeg-
for this analysis of how archaeologicaltheory is mon does not advocatethis).
conceived,valued,anddeployed. More than a decade ago, McGuire (1992)
warnedagainst"rampanttheoreticaleclecticism"
Processual-Plus Archaeological Theory? by postprocessualists.His criticismsalsopertainto
approachesHegmon called "processual-plus."
has
In additionto the three "self-identifiedperspec- WhatMcGuire(1992:8) calls a "methodof brico-
tives"(evolutionaryecology, behavioralarchaeol- lage"amountsto archaeologistspickingandchoos-
ogy, and Darwinian archaeology), Hegmon ing snippetsfrom a wide rangeof social theories
(2003:214-217) lumpswhatmanyof us do into a withoutdevelopingcoherent,logically consistent
categorycalled "processual-plus." She goes on to theories.Pattersondescribesthispracticein a more
insightfully consider how archaeologicaltermi- graphicway, by statingthatarchaeologists
nology reflects in
changes archaeologicaltheory behavelikemuggerswhorandomlyselecttheir
(Hegmon2003:225-230), andin so doing,she has
victims,stealtheirideasormethodologiesand
inspiredme to reflecton her inventionand use of retreatwithno regardfor the identitiesof the
the term"processual-plus." I agree with Hegmon
when she states thatmost North victims,theirplacein socialdiscourse,or the
(2003:216-217) of such acts, and then sell the
Americanarchaeologistsstill considerthemselves implications
stolengoods in the next issue of a scholarly
processualists but admit interest in other
journal[Patterson2000:51].
approachesand theoreticaltrends.Nevertheless,
the term "processual-plus"does not identify the Instead of such a "hit and run" approach,
sourceof the "plus"which Hegmonwouldproba- McGuirearguesthat
bly agreederivesfromthecontributions of a diverse
Ourknowledgeof thepastis madethroughthe
of
group postprocessualarchaeologistsand other tensionscreatedby differenttheories,through
archaeologistswho haveheavilyborrowedfroma debateandstruggle.... it [thestruggle]leads
varietyof social theorists.Insteadof acknowledg- us to critically examine the conceptual
ing the intellectual contributions of these schemes that structurethose observations.
researchers,however,this new term obscuresthe
Through thisdebate,archeologistsmakenew
origins of the ideas now encompassed within
knowledgeandmakethenewtheorynecessary
"processual-plus." to continuethe struggle.. . . Ourtheoriesdo
"Processual-plus" may be a comfortableterm not get better and better;we exhausttheir
for many archaeologiststo use because it avoids

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COMMENTS 583

insightson the world,they groanand break or postprocessualarchaeology.Yet manyfeminist


undertheweightof therealitiesthattheyseek archaeologistsmaintainallegiance to the larger
to abstract,ortheybecomeirrelevant oroffen- social goals of feminism(e.g., Conkey2003:874).
siveto theconcernsof theworldwe livein Lumpingtheir work in a "processual-plus" cate-
Thedevelopment of thefield,therefore,lies in gory fails to acknowledgepolitical agendasthat
theinconsistenciesandtensionscreatedby the admittedly cause discomfortto some people both
juxtapositionof differenttheoriesin archaeol- inside and outside the profession. Those brave
ogy andnotin theresolutionof thesetensions enoughto attemptto incorporatequeertheoryinto
[McGuire1992:7]. archaeologicaldiscourseto challengethe hetero-
sexism in our field are even further"beyondthe
Use of the term"processual-plus" seems to be margin,"to borrowa phrasefrom the title of Joe
a strategy aimed at dissolving such - a
tensions Watkins'sarticle.
to
valiantattempt unify archaeologists under the Another school of thinking taking hold in
banner of a "new" (?) processualismperhaps,and Europe(Gosden 1999) and in historicalarchaeol-
demonstratethatdespiteourdifferences,we really ogy (e.g., Paynter2000) is postcolonialarchaeol-
can "getalong."But the tensionbetweencompet- ogy. AlthoughWatkins'sarticleshows how farwe
ing paradigms can be productive in the way have to travel, some of what has been labeled
McGuireargues,andsome wouldclaimit is essen- indigenous archaeology(Nicholas and Andrews
tial (VanPoolandVanPool2003). Marxistarchae- 1997; Watkins2000) or covenentalor ethnocriti-
ologists might make the case thateven the social cal archaeology(Zimmerman2000) areaimingto
tensions among archaeologistsexpressedat pro- decolonizearchaeologyin a way in whichthe field
fessionalmeetingsor in the pages of ourjournals can betterserveNativeAmericanandFirstNation
areindispensablepartsof thedialecticalprocessof stakeholders.Froma feministpoint of departure,
creatingknowledge. Spector(1993) aimedto decolonizethepracticeof
An even more serious problemwith the term archaeologyfrom the field and laboratoryto the
"processual-plus"is that it attemptsto subsume analysis and reporting.These moves have been
schoolsof thoughtwhose practitionersclaimto lie happeningalongsidetribalarchaeologyprograms
outside the bounds of either processualor post- workingatthegrass-rootslevel to assertmorecon-
processualarchaeology.Even though some vari- troloverheritage(e.g., Dongoskeet al. 2000; Fer-
eties of postprocessualism(and processualism) guson 2003; Stappand Burney2002). The social
borrowfromMarxistthought,Patterson(1990) and goals of these practitionersagain range beyond
McGuire (1992) are unambiguous about their archaeologicaltheory,andto considerthemunder
standsthatMarxistarchaeologyoccupies a theo- the "processual-plus"category underplaystheir
reticalspace outsidethe oppositionof processual sociopoliticalsignificance.
andpostprocessualarchaeologies.I believe this is By lumpingvarioustheoreticalpositionsunder
"
becauseboth McGuireand Pattersonbelieve that "processual-plus we not only lose the genealogy
the goals of Marxistarchaeologyare not simply of varied and sometimes conflicting theoretical
theory-building,but ultimatelyto promotesocial positions,we failto acknowledgethatsomeschools
change. In this respect, the use of the term of archaeologicalthinkingreallydo aspireto social
"processual-plus" might be read as an attemptto changebothwithinandoutsidethe archaeological
defang depoliticizethe largergoals of marxist
or profession.Obviously,not everyonein the disci-
archaeology. pline agrees with the political agendas of these
Feministarchaeologyalso occupies a theoreti- schools of thought,and some archaeologistsfear
cal space outside the processual-postprocessual thatexposingthecontentof theseagendasrisksthe
opposition.A feministarchaeologyis not simplya scientificcredibilityof our entire field. Yet other
concern with gender in the past. As Hegmon schoolsof archaeologicalthinkingalso havepolit-
(2003:218-219) points out, not all archaeologists ical andpublicpolicy agendas;some zooarchaeol-
who studygenderdo so within a feministframe- ogists are passionatelyconcernedwith issues of
work, and those studying gender may use conservationbiology (Lymanand Cannon2004),
approachesfrom differentvarietiesof processual and some historicalecologists seek genuinesolu-

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584 AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 70, No. 3, 2005]

tionsforenvironmental problems(Crumley1994). postprocessualthinking,but throughthe activism


Such openly stated political agendas or non- of AmericanIndians,Alaska Natives, and Native
archaeologicalgoals providea trailwe can follow Hawaiians.In 1984, Protectionof Archaeological
thathelpsreadersmoreeffectivelyevaluateanargu- Resources(43 CFR 7) [theregulationsauthorized
ment's meritandits supportingarchaeologicalevi- by the ArchaeologicalResourcesProtectionAct
dence (Wylie 1992). Such agendas also make (1979)] requiredthat Indiantribesbe notifiedof
archaeologyandeven archaeologicaltheorymore possibleharmto, or destructionof, sites on public
relevantto stakeholdersoutsidetheranksof thepro- lands havingreligiousor culturalimportance.As
fession. pointedoutby Watkins(2003:275-276), thesereg-
How has archaeologicaltheorymanifestitself ulations also requiredconsultation with Indian
in public policy regardingheritageresources?In tribesin the issuanceof permitsto conductarchae-
the next sectionI tryto show how the evolutionof ological work.In 1990, TheGuidelinesfor Evalu-
CRM laws and regulationsin the United States ating and Documenting Traditional Cultural
reflectsthe changinglandscapeof archaeological Properties (NationalRegister Bulletin 38) were
theory.Perhaps"processual-plus"better charac- published,openingup the rangeof sites important
terizesthe directionsin which CRM archaeology to NativeAmericansthatarenow eligible for list-
has moved over the past 15 years. ing on theNationalRegister.Requirements forcon-
sultationwith IndianTribesare also mandatedby
Processual-Plus CRM Archaeology? the NativeAmericanGravesProtectionandRepa-
triationAct (1990) as well as the 1992amendments
In the United States, archaeological theory- to the NationalHistoricPreservationAct. Incre-
specifically that of processual archaeology- is mentalchanges have subsequentlybeen made to
writteninto the languageof the federallaws, reg- variousregulations(including36 CFR 63, Deter-
ulations,andguidelinesthatdirectheritageresource minationof Eligibilityfor Inclusionin theNational
management.While all laws reflect the political Register,36 CFR800, Protectionof HistoricProp-
struggleandhistoricalcircumstancesof theirtimes, erties)andtheSecretaryofInterior'sStandardsand
the laws and regulationsthatdrivemost archaeo- Guidelinesfor Archaeologyand HistoricPreser-
logical work today bear the indelible stamp of vation.
processualarchaeology.Forexample,theSecretary Even thoughthese changeswere not drivenby
of Interior'sStandardsand Guidelinesfor Archae- the changingtheoreticalclimatein archaeology,I
ology andHistoricPreservation(firstpublishedin believe thatpostprocessualcritiquesopenedup an
1983) call for problem-oriented researchdirected intellectualspace for at least some archaeologists
towardparticulardata gaps. These standardsand to acceptthe changingpoliticalrealitiesof doing
guidelines specify formal researchdesigns with archaeologyin the UnitedStates.Criticaltheorists
"explicitstatementsof theproblemto be addressed had been urging fellow archaeologists to re-
and the methodsor tests to be applied"(National evaluatethe social and politicalcontextin which
ParkService2003). The sitesconsideredin preser- we work, to recognize that our interpretations
vationplanningarethose listed or eligible for list- always have political implications(Leone et al.
ing on the National Register of Historic Places. 1987). Feminist archaeologistssuch as Spector
Thecriteriaforeligibilityto theRegisterwereorig- (1993:17) had grownimpatientwith the categori-
inallydevelopedwhenanarchaeologicalsite'ssig- cal thinkingof processualarchaeologythat had
nificancewas based solely on its "datapotential" resultedin "distancedand lifeless representations
(CriterionD). Even thoughearly on Schifferand of the past."Spectormoved towardcollaborating
Gumerman(1977:244-245) encouragedassocia- withIndianpeopleto tapintotheinsightsof indige-
tive valuesto be takeninto accountin assessments nous ways of thinking.Workingon nineteenth-
of site significance,most archaeologistshavecon- centuryarchaeologicalsites,KentLightfoot(1995,
tinuedto use CriterionD only (King 1998:76). 2005) has called for the removalof the artificial
Inrecentyearsin theUnitedStates,some of our divisionbetweenprehistoryandhistoryin studies
federal laws and regulationshave become more of contact and colonialism.Numeroushistorical
"processual-plus," not due to the incorporationof archaeologistshave documentedhow class, race,

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COMMENTS 585

and gender in capitalist societies structurethe only useful for theirinformationpotentialthatwe


everydaylives of people(Paynter2000). Dukeand can efficiently exploit using the technologies of
Saitta (1998) have called for an "emancipatory modernarchaeology.Sucha statementignoresthe
archaeologyfor the workingclass."I am suggest- associativevaluessucha site mayhold for descen-
ing thatthechangingpoliticalcontextof American dant communities. What Goodby (1994:55)
archaeologyis consistentwith aspectsof evolving observeda decade ago is still truetoday;most of
archaeologicaltheory, some of which we might the income generatedfrom CRM work on Native
classify as postprocessual,andsome of which lies Americanarchaeologicalresourcesis earnedby
outside the processual and postprocessual non-NativeAmericans.To me it appearsthat the
dichotomy.Archaeologiststodayarereconsidering timelag betweenchangingregulationsandarchae-
culturehistoryand attendingto systemsof mean- ologicalpracticeis parallelto thetimelag between
ing, social space, individualaction, gender, and changing archaeologicaltheory and practice.A
inequality(Goodby 1994:52-53). This is not to processualistview of culturehas been institution-
claimthatonly feminists,Marxists,or postproces- alized in our CRM infrastructurein the United
sualists can "get along" with Native Americans States, and recent adjustmentsmay have made it
becausetheirconcernsare understoodin term of more "processual-plus." But if CRM archaeology
largersociopoliticalprocesses;cooperativeefforts has simplyevolvedinto"processual-plus," thenwe
betweenarchaeologistsandNativeAmericansdate have not fully appreciatedthe critiques of past
backto at leastthe 1960s (Sprague1974;Kirkand archaeological practiceoriginatingfrombothinside
Daugherty1974). Nevertheless,many archaeolo- and outsidethe discipline.Watkins'sreviewhelps
gists stillbelievethatas scientists,theyaretheulti- show how far we may have to travelif we choose
mate authorities over archaeological sites and to decolonize the practiceof archaeology.Heg-
materials.Such resistanceto sharingpower over mon's typologyhelps demonstratewhy Watkins's
thedispositionof archaeologicalmaterialshasbeen concernsare still so "beyondthe margin."
amply illustratedin the struggleover Kennewick Some CRMpractitionersareout in frontof the
Man (Meskell 2002:290-291; Watkins 2003: changingregulations,leadingthe way in develop-
274-275; 2004). ing collaborativerelationshipswithTribesandother
Clearly,not all CRM archaeologistshave kept NativeAmericangroups(e.g., Ferguson1996;Ivy
pace with (andsome may continueto resist)these and Byram2001; Stappand Burney2002; Welch
changes. For example, even thoughthe National 2000). Those academicarchaeologistswho work
Registerguidelinescited abovehavebeen updated in CRMcontextsarealso cultivatingtrustwith the
to include language about "associativevalues," Tribeswith whom they regularlywork by recog-
somearchaeologistsstilloperateundertheassump- nizing theirlegitimateconcernswith repatriation,
tion that archaeologicalsites are eligible to the sacredsites,andthepoliticsof representation (e.g.,
NationalRegisteronlyfortheirdatapotential.Con- Erlandson1998; Mills and Ferguson1998; Moss
sequently,this type of thinkingcan lead to state- andWasson1998;Spector2000;SteinandPhillips
mentsthatsomeNativeAmericansas well as some 2002). It is importantto acknowledgethe restric-
archaeologistsmightfindoffensiveor anachronis- tions in the currentregulatoryframework,how-
tic.Forexample,in writingaboutthegoalsof Phase ever,andthatthesepractitioners do notyetrepresent
IIIdatarecoveryin theirrecenttextbook,Neumann the majority of archaeologists working in the
andSanfordstated, UnitedStateson NativeAmericanaffiliatedsites.

[t]heidea is to makethe continuedexistence


of theportionof thethreatened siteredundant. Conclusion
If successful,the site's informationpotential label masks the ori-
Hegmon's"processual-plus"
is capturedby theprocessandcontainedin the
gin and development of a wide rangeof theoreti-
archaeological assemblage,fieldrecords,lab-
cal approacheswhose practitionersmay or may
oratoryanalysisrecords,andreport[Neumann not claim affiliationwith postprocessualism.The
andSanford2001:159]. fails to distinguish
designation"processual-plus"
assumes
Thisstatement sites
archaeological are among those approaches whose primaryconcern

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586 AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 70, No. 3, 2005]

is archaeological theory-building and other Professor Phil Young, University of Oregon, translatedthe
approachesthataimto achievebroadersocialgoals. abstractinto Spanishin recordtime with his persistentgood
cheer. I also the work of EditorMike Jochim and
By softeningtheedges of postprocessual,Marxist, his assistant,appreciate
Melissa Lambright, at the University of
feminist, and postcolonialcritiquesof archaeol- California,Santa Barbara,and John Neikirk at SAA head-
ogy, it becomeseasierto claim thatideas deriving quartersfor their help with the revised manuscript.
from these archaeologieshave been incorporated
into the mainstream(Hegmon2003:217). But the
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