The Marriage of Archaeological Science and Social Theory
In this course, we will examine the successes and failures within the relationship between science and theory. Students will be introduced to some literature from the history of science and philosophy of science in an attempt to understand how scientific interpretations can be social constructions and how our perceptions about the validity and ‘truth’ of science were first constructed. By questioning the origin of these paradigms, we can better comprehend our dependence on scientific analysis, as it informs our archaeological interpretations. We will critically evaluate topical approaches in leading journals, such as Archaeological Science, Field Archaeology,Archaeological Method and Theory and SocialArchaeology, focusing on environmental approaches, survey methods and certain material assemblages, such as ceramics, plant, animals, and soils. What can these assemblages inform us about the people who produced and used them? Can high-tech analytical methods contribute to a deeper understanding of the past or just muddy the waters? Theoretically, we will follow Latour, Dupre and Foucault to challenge the objectivity of ‘science’ and value of archaeological taxonomies, and question archaeological epistemologies as it relates to the construction of archaeological narratives.
In the second part of this course, we will be dealing directly with archaeological assemblages and pushing the traditional interpretations further into the social realm. We will be working directly withthe archaeological assemblages of the graduate students, specifically addressing the science and theory issues applicable to their research. The syllabus will be adjusted in the first week to accommodate the specific research problems presented by the graduate students.
Tuesday 5:00-7:20. Instructor: Serena Love
Class will be held in the seminar room of Rhode Island Hall, 008.