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Book: Thinking with J. Z. Smith

Chapter: 12. Imagining the Past: A Case Study of Double Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.39938


Vaia Touna takes Smith’s idea of religion as an act of a second order reflective imagination and explores the idea of “the past” as a similar discursive act. As a case study she looks at a contemporary archaeological excavation, near the village of Narthaki, in central Greece, and the often-unnoticed collaborations between a variety of participants (e.g., archaeologists and local residents, museum visitors and curators, etc.), who each have their own narratives about, and investments in the archaeological finds. Touna’s goal is to investigate how these collaborations (implicit or explicit) between so called outsiders (e.g., archaeologists) and insiders (e.g., local residents) impact the way the material artifacts found in archaeological sites are imagined. What kind of meanings they acquire? How are they discussed and historicized not only within the framework of local communities and their larger ethnic discourses but also within archaeological and historical disciplinary discourses.

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