Possessing the Past: The use and abuse of archaeology in building nation-states
2013 05 30

By Dr Peter Buxton | HeritageDaily

Historical artefacts can be used as a powerful tool to reinforce group identity and forge a nation-state, but their use can have adverse consequences such as the oppression of minorities.

A diagram is used to summarise the complex identity relationships between states and nations. The power of historical artefacts derives from the duality of their nature; they are both a concrete proof of an historical fact and the basis for an abstract construction of meaning. Three case studies are used to provide examples of the use and abuse of archaeology.


The Ratification of the Treaty of Munster, Gerard Ter Borch (1648) : Wiki Commons, part of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the war between France, Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire

From the earliest pre-historic times to the present day man has formed groups which transcend family as a way of organising and regulating society. These groupings, whether Iron Age tribes, Athenian city states or modern nations, have been bound together by many factors such as territory, language and culture. Since the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia the nation state has become the main entity through which international relations are organised; even with the development of supra-national bodies, and the changes wrought by globalisation, the nation state has remained pre-eminent.

The decline of the nation-state as the foremost way in which international relations are conceived has been much debated but, like Mark Twain, rumours of its death appear to have been exaggerated. Whether it is in Scotland or the Balkans, national groups, using the rhetoric of nationalism, seek independent nation status as the pinnacle of self determination; alternatives, such as greater autonomy within the existing state, are seen as a lesser status.

The terms ‘nation’, ‘state’, and ‘nation-state’ are often regarded as synonyms; this is incorrect and, whilst recognising their limitations and contested nature, for the purposes of this paper the definitions proposed by Smith will be used. A ‘state’ is a public institution exercising a monopoly of coercion and extraction within a given territory; a ‘nation’ is a cultural and political bond uniting a single political community. A ‘nation-state’ exists where there is complete congruence between the territory of the ‘state’ and that of the ‘nation’.

Using case studies of National Socialist Germany, Israel, and Bosnia, which show different aspects of how archaeology is used, this paper will explore the importance of associating individual identity with a nation.

[...]

Read the full article at: heritagedaily.com



Related Articles
Controlling People By Controlling History
African Coins Found in Australia Thought to Be 1,000 Years Old: May Rewrite History
History of Geology - Down the Rabbit Hole
From Hiroshima To Gaza: The Demon of History And The Divinity of "The Others"


Latest News from our Front Page

Sweden Recognizes Palestinian State; Israel Upset
2014 10 31
Sweden on Thursday became the biggest Western European country to recognize a Palestinian state, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm. The move by Sweden’s new left-leaning government reflects growing international impatience with Israel’s nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. It also comes during increased ...
Fed-Backed Study: How to Brainwash Public into Fearing “Climate Change” Like Ebola
2014 10 31
$84K study seeks ways to make public fear "climate change and overpopulation" The National Science Foundation is funding a study to determine how to brainwash the public into fearing “climate change and overpopulation” as if they were Ebola. The NSF awarded an $84,000 grant to researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo yesterday to figure out how to make ...
Brain decoder can eavesdrop on your inner voice
2014 10 31
As you read this, your neurons are firing – that brain activity can now be decoded to reveal the silent words in your head TALKING to yourself used to be a strictly private pastime. That’s no longer the case – researchers have eavesdropped on our internal monologue for the first time. The achievement is a step towards helping people who cannot ...
6 Million Lies
2014 10 30
“If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you say will surely obscure them. If you do not alarm anyone morally, you yourself remain morally asleep. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift of the coming hell.” C Wright Mills. I need to share information I have discovered ...
Google’s New Computer With Human-Like Learning Abilities Will Program Itself
2014 10 30
In college, it wasn’t rare to hear a verbal battle regarding artificial intelligence erupt between my friends studying neuroscience and my friends studying computer science. One rather outrageous fellow would mention the possibility of a computer takeover, and off they went. The neuroscience-savvy would awe at the potential of such hybrid technology as the CS majors argued we have nothing to ...
More News »