Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Ethnic Identity and Archaeology

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1715


Of all forms of identity, ethnicity is possibly the one that has received attention in archaeology for the longest time. In fact, from its inception as an academic discipline in the late nineteenth century, one of the main goals of archaeology was the identification of ethnic groups in the past. In Gustaf Kossinna’s words, “sharply defined archaeological cultures correspond unquestionably with the areas of particular peoples or tribes” (Kossinna 1911: 3). Many advocates of the archaeological approach to the past known as culture-history still adhere to those principles. In doing so, they turn the search for ethnic identities in the past into the primary goal of archaeology, to the point that some would now argue that to abandon the search for ethnicity is tantamount to denying archaeology its quality of a historical discipline (Bierbrauer 2008: 6). By contrast, proponents of the processualist approach to the past associated with the New Archaeology had little interest in...

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Further Reading

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HistoryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA