SAAarchaeologicalrecord - Society for American Archaeology

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SAAarchaeologicalrecord - Society for American Archaeology

POINT-COUNTERPOINT

tiques, face it, were healthy ones. The feminist critique, for

example, has resulted in new insights, discoveries, and interpretations

of the archaeological record. We are all the better for

it. And increasing responsibility to local populations, also a

product of these critiques, has also led to certain changes that, I

think most of us agree, are for the better.

Most problematic for people who think as I do is the prospect

that archaeologists, once isolated in departments that might

share methodology but not “big questions,” will drift away from

the major objectives, values, and issues that were once the central

focus of anthropology as a discipline. American archaeology

has traditionally placed our reconstructions of the past in a

much larger and more theoretical framework, even while we are

conscious of the “local-ness” of archaeological accounts. Our

objectives have been to apply general theories and test hypotheses,

to explain trends in the past that might be observed elsewhere

on earth and at different times.

In any case, the tendency to specialize and then fail to communicate

within departments is unfortunate. In many graduate

programs, the integration of the subfields has been undermined

by assigning responsibility for training specialized students to

subfield faculty, a process which I, for one, deplore. We are at

our best when we do try, at least, to make sure that what we have

to say is relevant across the discipline. It is then that we think

most deeply and substantially. Why should we agree to give this

up? Our present departmental and disciplinary quarrels can be

serious and upsetting, but they are insufficient rationale for giving

up our larger vision.

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12 The SAA Archaeological Record • May 2002

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