Archaeology and the Nation: how archaeological knowledge is reused for strength of national identity

Rimvydas Laužikas, Vilnius University, Johanna Enqvist, University of Helsinki, Pedro Luengo, University of Seville, Rajna Šošić-Klindžić, University of Zagreb, and Marina Toumpouri, Athonite Digital Archaeology

Keywords: Archaeology; National identity; Knowledge work

Archaeology based arguments are used for creation of national identity from the 19th century. And there we find the archaeology as research, focussed to the past „before history“ (prehistory) which forms the foundation of the nation („myths of origin“, „invented remote past“), take the important stories for national identity and / or arguments for definition of the possible territory of national state (Kohl, 1998; Díaz-Andreu, 2016, Sommer, 2017).

The questions about archaeology and the national identity are on scope of different researchers for long time in different contexts (history, sociology, political sciences). The popularity of this research topic grows in connection with analysis of nationalism based conflicts (5-6 decades of 20th century, after Second World War and 10 decade, of 20th century, after dissolution of the Soviet Union).

The proliferation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has affected economic, political and cultural processes on a global scale and contributed to the emergence of sociocultural effects, including the different kinds of identities (Castells, 1997). In this context archaeological and material cultural heritage and archaeological scholarly knowledge often enjoyed a particular status as a form of heritage that, capturing the public imagination, has become the locus for the expression and negotiation of regional, national and intra-national cultural identities (e.g. Lähdesmäki, 2014).

At this paper we present the results of focus groups research, conducted as part of the activities of Working Group 3, “Archaeology and global communities” of ARKWORK – Archaeological  practices knowledge work in the digital environment COST Action. The research aimed towards deeper understanding of specifics and differences in use and reuse of archaeological scholarly knowledge for contemporary national identity. The research carried out in January-March 2019 as series of asynchronous online text based  conversation: close Facebook groups with about 15-25 participants, performed in national languages with duration about one week. The research was carried out in countries with different historical (also national identity) experiences: Croatia, Finland, Lithuania, Spain, Cyprus and Greece.


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