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The Location of Theory
Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) 2010
Friday, April 30th to Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
Brown University, Providence, RI
This conference, the third TAG meeting to be held in North America, is intended to bring together a diverse range of scholars and scholarly perspectives and to engender both friendly conversation and vigorous debate. In this, it stands in the long tradition of the TAG enterprise, founded in Great Britain in 1979 to encourage the exploration of inter-disciplinary theoretical issues and their application and use in archaeological interpretation.
The 2010 TAG will operate around the general theme of ‘The Location of Theory’ — an intentionally open ended rubric that could be developed along many different lines. A few examples include:
• Debate over the universal applicability of archaeological theory, from the ‘universal’ to the ‘relative’, given emergent local reaction and critique from scholars from so-called ‘peripheral’ places (the theme of our plenary session)
• Consideration of disciplinary distinctions (anthropological, classical, historic, prehistoric), both in terms of their traditional spatial focus and their embrace of divergent theoretical perspectives
• Exploration of the frequent separation of academic and non-academic practitioners of archaeology in which the former are assumed to be ‘theorized’, and the latter not
• Interrogation of the global practice of heritage studies, questioning if similar assumptions and tactics work well ‘everywhere’ (and if so, why then is there so little ‘intangible heritage’ in the global north?).
• Analysis of the very concept of a North American TAG, and what, if any, consequences such a change of location has had or should have.
It can also be noted that this topic is one of close concern to Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, which itself is somewhat ‘out of place’ in terms of the usual disciplinary divisions and organizational structures of archaeology in North America.