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By Yannis Hamilakis, Philip Duke

The editors and members to this quantity specialize in the inherent political nature of archaeology and its impression at the perform of the self-discipline. Pointing to the discipline’s historical past of advancing imperialist, colonialist, and racist pursuits, they insist that archaeology needs to reconsider its muted specialist stance and turn into extra brazenly lively brokers of switch. The self-discipline isn't approximately an summary “archaeological list” yet approximately residing members and groups, whose lives and historical past be afflicted by the abuse of energy relationships with states and their brokers. merely by way of spotting this strength disparity, and adopting a political ethic for the self-discipline, can archaeology justify its actions. Chapters diversity from a critique of conventional moral codes, to examinations of the capitalist motivations and buildings in the self-discipline, to demands an engaged, emancipatory archaeology that improves the lives of the folks with whom archaeologists paintings. an immediate problem to the self-discipline, this quantity will impress dialogue, confrontation, and concept for lots of within the box.

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This case may demonstrate that repatriation is often justifiable and in some cases not only an important mechanism for redress but also a proper remedy for an illicit act. But even in those situations, the question arises whether return is all we should hope for or expect. In cases where repatriation is supported on moral or legal grounds, should supporters of repatriation not use the opportunity to push for greater justice? In the case of Machu Picchu, for example, it is worth asking what kind of rights or economic benefits might be forthcoming to neighboring communities upon the objects’ return, and pushing for such policies in exchange for archaeologists’ support.

The papers in this section introduce the reader to the multi-faceted nature of this interrogation and thus adumbrate the papers that follow. The papers all are united by the common position that archaeology’s most fundamental responsibility – the heart of its ethical commitment – is not to that nebulous concept of ‘the past’, with its material remnants. Nor is its fundamental responsibility to science and objectivity. Rather, archaeology’s primary, perhaps only, responsibility is simply to contemporary people.

3 Cases such as these, hypothetical or real, should encourage us to think more carefully about what ‘repatriation’ accomplishes, and consider defining it more broadly than where an object resides. 4 The issue of control leads us to a second point regarding the term patria. Namely, it is the relationship of patria to nationalism that is even harder to reconcile with the post-colonial stance of a discipline equally skeptical of nationalist programs. Many cultural property policies – either to reclaim specific objects or to enact and enforce national ‘patrimony’ laws prohibiting export – are undertaken by nations seeking to retain their cultural heritage (Merryman 1988).

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