Is there such a thing as hunter-gatherer archaeology?

Class finishes

This paper considers what, if anything, is distinctive about hunter-gatherer archaeology compared to other kinds of archaeology. Three possible justifications for a distinctive field of practice are reviewed: 1) that hunter-gatherers are a distinctive object of study; 2) that hunter-gatherer archaeology is the same across the globe; and 3) that the material evidence that characterises hunter-gatherers is distinctive. None of these justifications hold. Given this, and the problematic social evolutionary history of the concept of hunter-gatherers, fundamental questions are raised about continuing to reiterate this concept in our archaeological practices. Against this background there is no simple answer to the initial question posed. I conclude by suggesting that in an Anglophone, European context the public power of the idea of 'hunter-gatherers' is such that there is justification for practicing a decolonial, self-critical and engaged 'hunter-gatherer archaeology'. 

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Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square

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