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AnArcheology for AnArchives: Why Do We Need—Especially for the Arts—A Complementary Concept to the Archive?

Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2015)

Journal: Journal of Contemporary Archaeology

Subject Areas: Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jca.v2i1.27144


The archive serves to organize mental and enforced orders in the shape of appropriate structures and to preserve the memory of past orders through their material-discursive traces. From the perspective of a logic of the manifold, however, the fruitless search for the one origin is as meaningless as the definition of a future. Yet, to work on the conceptualization and further development of utopian spaces of possibility does not necessarily involve the abandoning of either conventional archaeological practices or established archives. Rather, in this paper, I make a plea for effective complements, which involve thought-provoking nomenclatures. Anarchives and anarchaeology present such performative provocations. Following a logic of plurality and wealth of variants, they are particularly suited to handle events and movements. They do not lay claim to leadership. Nor do they claim to truthfully know where things come from and where they may be headed to. The origin is and remains a trap. Anarchives and anarchaeological practices do not follow any external purpose; they indulge in waste and offer presents best-suited to the contemporary remains of the arts. They insist on the utopian potential within archaeology: the search for a world not identical to the one we experience(d), the opposition of the factual space of past with a potential space that lets both, however tensely, approach each other.

Author: Siegfried Zielinski, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young

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