Archaeology Under Dictatorship Analysis

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Examining the process of archaeology in the dictatorial contexts of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, this essay proposes that archaeology under dictatorship involves significant ethical challenges, which require important reflexivity on the part of practicing archaeologists. This is specifically seen with an examination of the way in which the Nazi regime made use of archaeology so as to perversely support its notions of racial purity, the essay moves forward to note the ethical elements of archaeology under dictatorship. Archaeologists face difficult decisions in which an oppressive regime can use archaeological findings for the purpose of oppression. The essay then moves onto the destruction of archaeological sites due to dictatorship. …show more content…
Indeed, because such regimes make use of history as a strategic tool to cement their control over the population, archaeological contributions can have the unintended consequences of contributing to the regime’s stability, and thus its oppression of its people. With this in mind, Arnold (2004) argues that an inherent ethical tension lies at the heart of archaeology under dictatorship inasmuch as the archaeologist is contributing to global knowledge, by uncovering culturally and historically-relevant artifacts, but also likely unintentionally contributing to the cementing of the dictatorship’s staying power. Thus, the ethical tension which lies at the heart of archaeology under dictatorship is one which is deeply related to how authoritarian and totalitarian governments can misuse archaeological findings so as to support the …show more content…
2004 Dealing with the devil: The Faustian bargain of archaeology under dictatorship. In M. L. Galaty & C. Watkinson (Eds.), Archaeology under dictatorship. London, UK
Colls, C. S.
2012 Holocaust Archaology: Archaeological Approaches to Landscapes of Nazi Genocide and Persecution. In
Galaty, Michael L., and Charles Watkinson
2004 Archaeology under Dictatorship. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum
Mark, J.
2010 What remains? Anti-communism, forensic archaeology, and the retelling of the national past in Lithuania and Romania. Past and Present, S5, 276-300.
2009 Quest for Atlantis - Part 1: Nazi archaeologists search for evidence of the master race in Atlantis Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

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