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Last update: 12-16-08
From the books available in the electronic library at www.questia.com

Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern
Mediterranean and Middle East, ed. by Lynn Meskell; Routledge, 1998.
Douglass Bailey:
Bulgarian archaeology: ideology, sociopolitics and the
exotic, pp. 96-97

Archaeologists as political intelligentsia
The study of the particularities of one’s own ethnic group is a common target of
political intellectuals. The attentions of members of the intelligentsia (priests,
teachers and writers) have often focused on producing textbooks and histories
of their people (e.g. the Bishop of Sofia, Petur Bogdan Bakshev’s A Description
of the Bulgarian Empire (1640) and History of Bulgaria (1668) and the monk,
Paissi Hilendarski’s, History of the Bulgarian Slavs (1762) (see Shnirelman 1996:
226). Ethnic intellectuals frequently consider that they are obliged to build an
admirable historical-mythological image of their ethnic ancestors (Shnirelman
1996:238).

Both the early intellectuals’ efforts to study and write their past and the early
links between the Bulgarian government and academy are not surprising in the
pre-1945 period of state formation. The active roles which many academicians
played in national and party politics, however, are more unexpected. More than
half of the 1938/9 membership of BAN held or had held positions (many at high
levels) in state offices and ministries (e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Justice,
Education, Public Health) and some members had sat in the national parliament
(Walsh 1967:141). Ivan Geshov, who served as the first president of BAN was a
Prime Minister. Bogdan Filov, a founding father of modern Bulgarian archaeology
served as the last pre-World War II president of BAN, held the office of Minister
of Education as well as that of Prime Minister and was one of the advisors to
Prince Simion, the Prince Regent, following the death in 1943 of King Boris III.

In more recent times, academics and intellectuals have occupied high political
offices. A dissident philosopher, Zheliu Zhelev, led the first post-1989 opposition
party: he became President of the new Grand National Assembly in 1990. A
month later, an economist, Andrei Lukanov, was elected Prime Minister. The
1996 presidential elections pitted a divorce lawyer (the Union of Democratic
Forces candidate and eventual winner, Petar Stoyanov) against an
archaeologist—art historian (Professor-Dr Ivan Marazov, the candidate of the
Socialist Party—the former Communists). A less well publicised, but perhaps
more sensational, indicator of the natural acceptance of a link between
politicians and archaeologists occurred in 1995 when a Western polling
organisation carried out a survey of potential mayoral candidates in a major city
in north-eastern Bulgaria. The winner was the director of the local historical
museum. The victory was spectacular in that she had not been a listed
candidate: she had won as a write-in. To understand why these long-standing
links between archaeologists and national politics have survived, it is necessary
to consider the archaeologist as a custodian of the national past, as an arbiter
and, most importantly, as a manager and interpreter of powerful, and perhaps
dangerous, data.

Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology
Book by
Ian Hodder, Scott Hutson; Cambridge University Press, 2003. 293
pgs.
p. 156
[8] Contextual archaeology
Whatever questions one asks about the human past, even if they are only
about technology or economy, frameworks of meaning intervene. ..
In the previous chapter, we provided many loose glosses on the word
"meaning". Meaning came in the form of (1) intellectual, emotional or mystical
currents; (2) the "inside of events"; (3) belief systems; (4) ideology and
symbolism; (5) collective representations, and much more....
p. 157
Making sense of a situation implies that there is a distinction between a
situation and the expression of meaning about that situation (Taylor 1985, pp.
15-16). THus, meaning in not inherent in any situation. Meaning is relational; it
is a joint product of the situation and the person or people for whom the
situation is meaningful. Meaning is therefore always
for someone (p.22). Even
though the geometric pattern of a snowflake contains astonishing coherence
and sense, the snowflake has no meaning until human subjects come to
experience it. In other words, meaning is agent-centered.
p. 162
Meaning in archaeology
In archaeology, there is a spectrum of positions on meaning, ranging from the
idea that meaning is accessible and multiple. As we have seen, processual
archaeologists claim that their explanations of the past are free of meaning in
the embodied, intentional, relational and historic senses that we have discussed
in this chapter and others. This claims begna perhaps with Binford's
denunciation of palaeopsychology, but continue even in strands of processual
archaeology that claims to engage in cognition (Renfrew 1994a). There is an
obvious objection to this meaning-less stance: The function of burials, for
example, cannot be understood without a consideration of the meanings
surrounding death. ...
Douglass Bailey on
the website of the
International Institute
of Anthropology:
http://www.iianthropolo
gy.org/douglassbailey
60th Birth Anniversary of
Ian Hodder
http://www.iianthropology.or
g/ianhodder60thbirthanniver
sary
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