A Difficult Time: Archaeology and Modernity.

Alfredo González-Ruibal (National Research Council of Spain)
2/23/2015
Despite its deceiving proximity (or perhaps because of it), the time of modernity is a difficult time to study for archaeologists. In fact, it can be argued that it can be more so than prehistoric temporalities. First, there is the epistemological question of how to produce relevant archaeological knowledge of recent periods, where there is an overabundance of written, visual and oral testimonies and a unique experience of coevalness. Secondly, the time of modernity is different to other times with which
archaeologists are used to deal with, because of its multilayered and heterogeneous nature: increasing social complexity, technology and globalization bring a proliferation and superimposition of temporalities, which is at odds with historicist perspectives. Finally, the time of modernity, as geographers and philosophers have abundantly demonstrated, has radical political implications. It is a time out of joint, as Derrida put it, an unjust time of violence and destruction that ultimately annihilates itself. In this talk, I would explore, through different examples, how an archaeological approach to the difficult time of modernity might look like.

*co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies

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