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Making Alternative Histories

The Practice of Archaeology and History in Non-Western Settings

Edited by Peter R. Schmidt and Thomas C. Patterson

After working in Third World contexts for more than a century, many archaeologists from the West have yet to hear and understand the voices of their colleagues in non-Western cultural settings. In Making Alternative Histories, eleven scholars from Africa, India, Latin America, North America, and Europe debate and discuss how to respond to the erasures of local histories by colonialism, neocolonial influences, and the practice of archaeology and history as we know them today in North America and much of the Western world. Making Alternative Histories presents a profound challenge to traditional Western modes of scholarship and will be required reading for Western archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians.

1995. 332 pp., 8 black-and-white illustrations, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Bassey W. Andah, Iraida Vargas Arenas, Jalil Sued Badillo, Michael L. Blakey, Partha Chatterjee, Russell G. Handsman, Augustin F. C. Holl, Thomas C. Patterson, Trudie Lamb Richmond, Peter R. Schmidt, Alison Wylie

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“[T]he volume is both challenging and useful. It provides a good introduction to the work of postcolonial writers from all over the world and is a useful antidote to the narrowness of perspective in much archaeological writing. It includes concrete examples of ways that archaeologists and others can begin to write histories that reveal the lives of people who do not appear in ‘official,’ state, or most nationalist histories. Making Alternative Histories would be useful for all archaeologists and historians who hope to be a part of a discipline that is meaningful and relevant.”
—Carol McDavid, Historical Archaeology Vol. 32, no. 4 (1998)


“In 1992 a School for Advanced Research seminar brought together 11 scholars from Africa, India, Latin America, North America, and Europe to consider how archaeology and other historical research may be used ‘to recuperate the histories of peoples that have been erased, marginalized, or misrepresented…. [T]his collection … will make excellent, albeit challenging fodder for graduate student seminars and provocative reading for any practitioner confronting his or her own participation in the politics of writing the past.”
—Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, American Anthropologist 99, no. 3 (September 1997)


“In sum, this volume is an important contribution to the growing library of works that seek to demystify the production of historical and scientific knowledge… Undertaken as a collaborative endeavor that involved scholars of different backgrounds in the production of knowledge, the book is a signpost to the future.”
—Tamara L. Bray, Anthropological Quarterly Vol. 71, no. 1 (January 1998)


“This volume, the product of an advanced seminar at Santa Fe, provides a partisan view for the making of histories that are locally relevant and unencumbered by colonial and neo-colonial bias. It contains papers on Caribbean, Latin American, Native American, Indian and African archaeologies and histories… This volume … should be read by everyone working in the Third World today.”
—Mark Horton, Antiquity (1998)


“A very solid contribution to our understanding of what doing archaeology in society can (and should) entail.”
—Bulletin of the History of Archaeology

  1. Introduction: From Construcing to Making Alternative Histories
    Peter R. Schmidt and Thomas C. Patterson
  2. The Theme of the Indigenous in the National Projects of the Hispanic Caribbean
    Jalil Sued Badillo
  3. The Perception of History and Archaeology in Latin America: A Theoretical Approach
    Iraida Vargas Arenas
  4. Archaeology, History, Indigenismo, and the State in Peru and Mexico
    Thomas C. Patterson
  5. Confronting Colonialism: The Mahican and Schaghticoke People and Us
    Russell G. Handsman and Trudie Lamb Richmond
  6. Using Archaeology to Remake History in Africa
    Peter R. Schmidt
  7. Studying African Societies in Cultural Context
    Bassey W. Andah
  8. African History: Past, Present, and Future: The Unending Quest for Alternatives
    Augustin F. C. Holl
  9. Race, Nationalism, and the Afrocentric Past
    Michael L. Blakey
  10. Alternative Histories, Alternative Nations: Nationalism and Modern Historiography in Bengal
    Partha Chatterjee
  11. Alternative Histories: Epistemic Disunity and Political Integrity
    Alison Wylie

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.

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