Contested Landscapes—Rights to History, Rights to Place: Who Controls Archaeological Places?

Authored by: Jane Lydon

Handbook of Landscape Archaeology

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781598742947
eBook ISBN: 9781315427737
Adobe ISBN: 9781315427720


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Most human conflict is fundamentally about control over land. As the basis for subsistence and society, occupation of landscape determines survival, prosperity, and power over others; it is not merely a symbolic representation but a material fact of dispossession central to colonization and other conflict between peoples. In addition, culturally specific understandings of the past and of landscape are the basis for assertions of collective identity and rights in the present. Archaeological and heritage discourses that give meaning to landscapes are therefore contested by those with differing views of the past, as the basis for opposed interests in the present. Postcolonial critique has shown that the effects of Western imperialism, a historical process predicated on land seizure, remain fundamental within current global geo-political formations and continue to be expressed and contested within landscape.

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