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Reading: History of Latin American Archaeology


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History of Latin American Archaeology


David L. Browman

Department of Anthropology, Washington University - St Louis, US
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Two recent contributions (Oyuela-Caycedo 1994 and Politis 1995) to analyses of the intellectual development of archaeology in Latin America provide us with new perspectives. A theme shared by both is the perception by the authors of a need to distance the development of archaeology in Latin American countries from the overweening influence of Europe and especially U. S. archaeologists.

Politis argues that U.S. influence has been tantamount to 'cultural imperialism' (1995:226). He sees U.S. archaeologists as having a history of appropriating and manipulating the knowledge of the past which ignores the local peoples own traditional perceptions of their patrimony, and argues that the U.S. perspective is designed to satisfy the needs of western scholarship but fails to enter a dialog with the legitimate concerns of the subject countries.

Oyuela·Caycedo's introductory essay in his book "Nationalism and Archaeology" carries a very similar message. He faults U.S. archaeologists for failing to locate their studies in the areas social and local context, which he sees as leading the U.S. scholars to employ a model derived from "dependency theory" (1994:5), resulting in an overly simplistic perception of the context for the development of archaeological disciplines in respective Latin American countries.

How to Cite: Browman, D.L., 1995. History of Latin American Archaeology. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology, 5(2), pp.16–17. DOI:
Published on 21 Nov 1995.
Peer Reviewed


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