Modernity and Politics in Colombian Archaeology

  • Cristóbal Gnecco

The history of professional archaeology in Colombia began at the onset of the twentieth century with foreigners of different academic backgrounds (such as the German, Konrad Preuss, the North American, Alden Mason, and the Spaniard, José Pérez de Barradas), but soon after national researchers took over. With few exceptions, over the last six decades foreign archaeologists have avoided fieldwork in Colombia both because the country never experienced the development of social and political complexity characteristic of the Central Andes and Mesoamerica (and, thus, was academically less attractive), and because of the dangers created by the chronic violence that has swept the country since the 1950s. As a result, archaeology in Colombia has been carried out mostly by Colombians. This apparent “independence,” however, must be understood and situated by a description of the problems dominating Colombian archaeology, and that is the purpose of this paper. I have divided the exposition into three parts: the first deals with the relationship between archaeology and modernity, whose imprint is still felt, no matter how anachronistic it may seem; the second deals with the scientific phase of that relationship; and the third with the way it has been challenged and, to certain extent, superseded.


Indigenous People National Identity Archaeological Research Historical Narrative Metropolitan Center 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Clifford, James, 1986, On ethnographic allegory. In Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, edited by James Clifford and George E. Marcus, pp. 98–121. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  2. Fabian, Johannes, 1983, Time and the Other. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  3. García, Néstor, 1989, Culturas Híbridas: Estrategias para Entrar y Salir de la Modernidad. Grijalbo, México.Google Scholar
  4. Guerra, Weildler, 2001, Del exotismo a la autonomía. Los pueblos indígenas y los cambios en los conceptos de identidad, patrimonio y museo. In La Arqueología, la Etnografía, la Historia y el Arte en el Museo, edited by Fernando López, pp. 163–168. Museo Nacional, Bogotá.Google Scholar
  5. Helms, Mary W., 1979, Ancient Panama: Chiefs in Search of Power. University of Texas Press, Austin.Google Scholar
  6. Isaacs, Jorge, 1967, Las Tribus Indígenas del Magdalena. Biblioteca Schering, Bogotá. [1884].Google Scholar
  7. Jimeno, Myriam, 1984, Consolidación del estado y antropología en Colombia. In Un Siglo de Investigación Social. Antropología en Colombia, edited by Jaime Arocha and Nina de Friedemann, pp. 159–195. Etno, Bogotá.Google Scholar
  8. Martín, Jesús, 2003, De los Medios a las Mediaciones. Convenio Andrés Bello, Bogotá.Google Scholar
  9. Oyuela-Caycedo, Augusto, 1996, Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff. American Antiquity 61 (1): 52–56.Google Scholar
  10. Pineda, Roberto, 1984, La reivindicación del indio en el pensamiento social colombiano (1850–1950). In Un Siglo de Investigación Social: Antropología en Colombia, edited by Jaime Arocha and Nina de Friedemann, pp. 199–251. Etno, Bogotá.Google Scholar
  11. Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo, 1972, The feline motif in prehistoric San Agustín sculpture. In The Cult of the Feline, edited by Elizabeth P. Benson, pp. 51–68. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  12. Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo, 1981, Things of beauty replete with meaning: metals and crystals in Colombian Indian cosmology. In Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon: Gold and Emerald Treasures of Colombia, edited by Daniel H. Seligman, pp. 17–33. Natural History Museum, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  13. Triana, Miguel, 1972, La Civilización Chibcha. Carvajal, Cali. [1922].Google Scholar
  14. Uribe, Rafael, 1907, Reducción de Salvajes. Imprenta de la Luz, Bogotá.Google Scholar
  15. Uricoechea, Ezequiel, 1984, Memoria sobre las Antigüedades Neo-Granadinas. Banco Popular, Bogotá. [1854].Google Scholar
  16. Vasco, Luis Guillermo, 1992, Arqueología e identidad: el caso Guambiano. In Arqueología en América Latina Hoy, edited by Gustavo Politis, pp. 176–191. Fondo de Promoción de la Cultura, Bogotá.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristóbal Gnecco
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de AntropologíaUniversidad del CaucaColombia

Personalised recommendations