Anthropology 319

Fall 2005                                                                     

Mr. Kohl



Nationalism, Politics, and the Use of the Remote Past


            This seminar critically examines the use of prehistory and antiquity (Classical, Biblical, early historical) for the construction of accounts of national origins, historical claims to specific territories, or the exaggerated contributions and abilities of specific peoples.  The course begins with a review of anthropological approaches to ethnicity and nationalism and then examines the phenomenon of nationalism and the historically recent emergence of contemporary nation-states.  It then proceeds comparatively, selectively examining politically motivated appropriations of the remote past on a global basis that either were popular earlier in the 20th century or that have ongoing relevance for some of the ethnic conflicts raging throughout the world today (e.g., the political manipulation of archaeological materials in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union).   Particular reconstructions of national origins will be studied in depth.  The course will attempt to develop criteria for distinguishing credible and acceptable reconstructions of the past from those that are unbelievable and/or dangerous.  The course will also examine the responsibilities of ancient historians and archaeologists in reconstructing specific features of the remote past on the basis of limited and problematic sources.


            A mid-term, open book take-home essay quiz will be distributed on October 18th t and will be returned on October 25th.  Students - either collectively on collaborative projects or individually - will be asked to make short 10-15 minute oral presentations of their final projects in class starting the week of November 8th; a shorter essay quiz may be given in the last class on December 13th.  There will be no final exam, but the final paper/project (c. 15-20 pages) will be due at the end of the examination period on December 22nd before 4:30 PM.  Students are urged to consult early in the term (preferably before Fall Break) with Mr. Kohl concerning their final paper and are invited to meet with him in his office (Pendleton East 345, ex. 2146) at any time, particularly during his office hours which are Fridays afternoons 1:30-3:30PM (or to be arranged individually with him after class).


Books Available for Purchase at the Bookstore


NPPA - Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology, ed. by

            P.L. Kohl and C. Fawcett

SR – Selective Remembrances: Archaeology in the Construction,

Commemoration, and Consecration of National Pasts ed. by P.L. Kohl, M. Kozelsky, and N. Ben-Yehuda**

NN - Nations and Nationalism since 1780 by E.H. Hobsbawm

IC - Imagined Communities by B. Anderson

FG – Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial

Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society by N. Abu el-Haj

DO – Down from Olympus by S. Marchand

AC – Ayodhya: A Critique of the “New” and “Fresh” Discoveries by

D. Mandal

SW – Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for

American Identity by D.H. Thomas


** to be distributed (or copied) as a CD (hard copy available in Knapp Center)


Other Sources Available on Reserve


MH – Marketing Heritage: Archaeology and the Consumption of the

Past, ed. by Y. Rowan and U. Baram

ROP - Revenge of the Past by R.G. Suny 

BPP - Between Past and Present: Archaeology, Ideology, and Nationalism in the Modern Middle East by N.A. Silberman

WGP - Who Gets the Past? Competition for Ancestors among Non-    Russian Intellectuals in Russia by Victor Shnirelman

VP – The Value of the Past: Myths, Identity and Politics in

Transcaucasia by V.A. Shnirelman

NAE - Nationalism and Archaeology in Europe ed. by M. Diaz-Andreu and T. Champion

IAI – The Invention of Ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian

history by K.W. Whitelam

MAH - Making Alternative Histories: The Practice of Archaeology and             History in Non-Western Settings ed. P.R. Schmidt and T.C.         Patterson

MMO - Museums and the Making of "Ourselves": the Role of Objects in National Identity ed. F. Kaplan

AHAT – A History of Archaeological Thought by B.G. Trigger

AUF – Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics, and Heritage in

 the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. ed. by : L. Meskell

RN – Religious Nationalism by P. van der Veer

CIA – Cultural Identity and Archaeology: The Construction of

European Communities ed. by S. Jones, C. Gamble, and P. Graves-Brown

SPNRE - Social Preconditions of National Revival in Europe by M.


EN – Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives by T.H.


AIS – Archaeology, Ideology and Society: the German Experience” ed. by H. Härke

SG – Sacred Geography: a tale of murder and archaeology in the Holy Land by E. Fox

AE – Archaeologies of Europe: History, Methods, and Theories ed. by

P.F. Biehl, A. Gramsch, and A. Marciniak (German and English)

RPP – Reclaiming a Plundered Past: Archaeology and Politics in Iraq,

1921-1941 by M.T. Bernhardsson (xeroxed selections of manuscript)



Course Outline


Week 1 – September 6th: Overview to Course and a Brief Introduction to the Discipline of Archaeology and the Methods of the Prehistorian; Historiographical Difficulties in the Study of Ancient History and Limitations to the Prehistoric Record; A Consideration of the Problems with and Importance of Ethnic Identifications in Prehistory; CASE STUDY – Mongolia and Uzbekistan


suggested readings:   EN – chapters 1-4; 

“Celts and Politics” by K. Collis in CIA (handout of introduction and conclusion)


Week 2 – September 13th: Nation-States as Modern Social Constructions of Reality – a European perspective; General Anthropological Perspectives on Ethnicity and Nationalism; The Importance of Distinguishing Ethnicity from Nationalism; and the Construction of National Identities and the Use of Archaeological Data in Western Europe – the cases of France, Spain, and the “British Isles”


required readings:

NN - entire

“Prehistory and the Identity of Europe” by C. Renfrew in CIA

"'Our Ancestors the Gauls': Archaeology, Ethnic Nationalism, and the Manipulation of Celtic Identity in Modern Europe" by M. Dietler (xerox and pp. 584-605 in American Anthropologist, vol. 96, no. 3, Sept. 1994);

"Archaeology and Nationalism in Spain" by M. Diaz-Andreu  in NPPA;

"Civilization, Barbarism, and Nationalism in European Archaeology" by B. Wailes and A.L. Zoll (in NPPA);


suggested readings:

EN – chap. 6;

"Nationalism and Copper Age Research in Portugal during the Salazar Regime (1932-1974)" by K. Lillios (in NPPA);

"Nationalism without a Nation: the Italian Case" by A. Guidi in NAE

NAE articles by Schnapp and Wiwjorra;

"The Fall of a Nation, the Birth of a Subject: The National Use of Archaeology in Nineteenth Century Denmark," by M.L.S. Sorensen in NAE


Week 3 – September 20th: CASE STUDY: German Archaeology – Before, During, and After the Nazis; video on Archaeology under the Nazis


required readings:

DO – entire

"Archaeology In Nazi Germany: the Legacy of the Faustian Bargain" by B. Arnold and H. Hassman (in NPPA); video on Archaeology under the Nazis


suggested readings:

Germany’s Nazi Past” by B. Arnold in Archaeology, July/August 1992

AIS – articles by Veit and Haßmann

“Religion, Politics, and Prehistory: Reassessing the Lingering Legacy of Oswald Menghin” by P.L. Kohl and J.A.Pérez Gollán (xerox and in Current Anthropology, vol. 43, no. 4, August-October 2002

"Archaeologists and Migrations: A Problem of Attitude?" by H. Härke (xerox and in Current Anthropology, vol. 39, no. 1, Feb. 1998 )

"Orientalism as Kulturpolitik: German Archaeology and Cultural Imperialism in Asia Minor" by S. Marchand (xerox)

"Nazi and Eco-Feminist Prehistories: Ideology and Empiricism in Indo-European Archaeology" by D.W. Anthony (NPPA)


Week 4 – September 27th: Soviet/Russian Archaeology: Positive and Negative Features; Historical and Contemporary Developments; Soviet Nationalities Policy; Marxist Theory, Internationalism, and Russian and anti-Russian Chauvinisms; CASE STUDY - Indo-Europeans and the Aryan myth

required readings:

 "From Internationalism to Nationalism: Forgotten Pages of Soviet Archaeology in the 1930s and 1940s" by V.A. Shnirelman (NPPA);

"Postscript: Russian Archaeology after the Collapse of the U.S.S.R. - Infrastructural Crisis and the Resurgence of Old and New Nationalisms" by E.N. Chernykh (NPPA);

“Russian Response: Archaeology, Russian Nationalism, and the ‘Arctic Homeland” by V.A. Shnirelman in SR

Challenges of Church Archaeology in Post-Soviet Crimea by M. Kozelsky in SR


Video: “Arkaim


suggested readings:

The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union by R.G. Suny - chaps.1- 3;


Archaeology and Nationalism in “The History of the Romanians” in SR

"Archaeology and Ethnic Politics: the Discovery of Arkaim" by V. Shnirelman (xerox and Museum International, no. 198, April - June 1998


Week 5 – October 4th: Non-Russian Nationalist Archaeologies in the Caucasus, Russia and southeastern Europe; the Disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Dispute over Macedonia and the Deliberate Destruction of Cultural Monuments; Case Study - the quest for the Caucasian Albanians


required readings:

"Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology in the Caucasus" by P. L. Kohl and G.R. Tsetskhladze (NPPA)

"Archaeology and Ideology in Southeast Europe" by T. Kaiser (xerox and NPPA)

BPP - introduction, chaps. 1-4

“Writing of Caucasian Albania: Facts and Falsifications by M.S. Gadjiev in SR (skim)


suggested readings:

Who Gets the Past Competition for Ancestors among Non-Russian Intellectuals in Russia by V.A. Shnirelman (xerox);

"National Romanticism in Archaeology: the Paradigm of Slavonic Colonization in North-West Russia," by P. Ligi (xerox)

"The Middle Volga: Ethnic Archipelago in a Russian Sea" by R. Wixman, chap. 18 in Nations and Politics in the Soviet Successor States ed. by I. Bremmer and R. Taras;

Who are the Macedonians? by H. Poulton;

"Seeing Stars: Character and Identity in the Landscapes of Modern Macedonia" by K.S. Brown, pp. 784-796 in Antiquity, vol. 68, no. 261, December 1994

"Politicizing Culture: Negating Ethnic Identity in Greek Macedonia," by A. Karakasidou (xerox);


Week 6 – October 18th:  Archaeology, Politics, and Religious and Secular Nationalisms in the Middle East – part 1; CASE STUDY: Israel/Palestin: Israeli Archaeology and the Sacred Landscape of Jerusalem and the Symbol of Masada;  video: "The Myth of Masada"; 


required readings:

FG – entire;

SR – Introduction and articles on Israel/Palestine by Ben-Yehuda, Feige, Baram, and Ziadeh-Seely


suggested readings:

BPP – chaps. 5-13

“The Politics of Israeli Archaeology: Between ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Science’ in the Age of the Second Republic” by R.S.. Hallote and A.H. Joffe (xerox)

"Politics and Archaeology" by A. Elon, pp. 14-18 in New York Review of Books, Sept. 22, 1994, reprinted AEA 96/97;

Jerusalem: Battlegrounds of Memory by A. Elon;

Masada: Herod's Fortress and the Zealots' Last Stand by Y. Yadin - chaps. 1-2, 18-20 (skim rest of book)

"Palestine: Ancient History and Modern Politics" by G.W. Bowersock in Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question, ed. by E.W. Said and C. Hitchens



Mid-Term Take-Home Open Book Quiz Distributed – October 18th, Returned – October 25th


Week 7 – October 25th: Archaeology, Politics, and Religious and Secular Nationalisms in the Middle East – part 2:   Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, and Afghanistan; Colonial Rule and the Development of Archaeology in Iraq and Iran; CASE STUDY: Afghanistan: Perpetual Wars and the State Destroys Its National Heritage


required readings:

SR – articles by Shaw, Bernhardsson and K. Abdi


suggested readings:

“Nationalism, Politics, and the Development of Archaeology in Iran” by K. Abdi (xerox and American Journal of Archaeology 105 (2001): 51-76.


Week 8 – November 8th: Nationalist Archaeology in South, Southeast, and East Asia: Another Case of Religious Nationalism; Diffusion or Independent Evolution and Emergence of Civilization in East Asia; the Concept of Racial/Cultural Homogeneity Projected into the Remote Past; CASE STUDY – the destruction of the mosque at Ayodhya;  1st Student Oral Presentations


required readings:

SR – articles by  Ratnagar and Shoocongdej

AC - entire

Thirty Years of Chinese Archaeology (1949-1979)" by E. Tong (NPPA)

"The Regionalist Paradigm in Chinese Archaeology" by L. von Falkenhausen (NPPA);

"The Politics of Ethnicity in Prehistoric Korea" by S.M. Nelson (NPPA);

"Nationalism and Postwar Japanese Archaeology" by C. Fawcett (NPPA)


suggested readings:

World Archaeology Congress 3” by N. Rao (xerox)

Religious Nationalism - preface and chap. 1 by P. van der Veer

"Alternative Histories, Alternative Nations: Nationalism and Modern Historiography in Bengal," by P. Chatterjee in MAH;

“The Mummies of Xinjiang” by E. Hadingham (xerox)



Week 9 – November 15th: African Archaeology: colonialism and nationalism.  Africa and the Origins of Western Civilization; the Black Athena Controversy and Bigotry and Racism in Early Classical Accounts of the Greek Foundations of Western Civilization;  the Archaeological Site of Zimbabwe: Racial Misperceptions and Modern Symbol of a Nation-State; video: "The Lost City of Zimbabwe"; 2nd  Student Oral Presentations


required readings:

“Contested Monuments: the politics of archaeology in southern Africa” by H. Kuklick (xerox)

"'Hidden History': Iron Age Archaeology in Southern Africa by M. Hall (xerox and chap. 4 in A History of African Archaeology ed. by P. Robertshaw);

"West African Archaeology: Colonialism and Nationalism" by A. Holl, (xerox and chap. 17 in A History of African Archaeology (op. cit.))

“The Cultural Work of Yoruba Ethnogenesis” by J.D.Y. Peel (xerox)

"Martin Bernal and His Critics" by S. Marchand and A. Grafton (xerox and Arion, fall 1997, pp. 1-35)

"The Afrocentric Myth" by M. Lefkowitz (xerox and  pp. 29-36 in The New Republic, February 10, 1992);


suggested readings:

Black Athena, vol. 1 The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985 by M. Bernal - chaps. IV-VII; "Brown Athena: A Post-Processual Goddess?" by B.G. Trigger, pp. 121-123 in Current Anthropology, vol. 33, no. 1, February 1992 (xerox);

"Afrocentrism" by T. Martin, chap. 7 in The Jewish Onslaught: Despatches from the Wellesley Front

Not Out of Africa. How Afrocentrism became an excuse to teach myth as history by M. Lefkowitz

Nubia under the Pharaohs and/or Early Civilizations: Ancient Egypt in Context by B.G. Trigger (skim);

articles by P.R. Schmidt and B.W. Andah in MAH



Week 10 – November 22nd: Nationalisms and the Manipulation of the Remote or Not-So-Remote National Past in the Americas; A Brief Examination of National Archaeology in Mexico and in Argentina; the Creation of Ethnic Identities in North America; the Annexation of the Remote and the Glorification of the Not-So-Remote Past in the United States; the Repatriation Issue and the Ownership of the Past; video on Kennewick Man, 3rd Student Oral Presentations


required readings:

SW – entire

article by M. Rutsch, “Natural History, National Museum and Anthropology in Mexico (some reference points in the forging and re-forging of national identity)” - xerox


suggested readings:

“Robbing Native American Cultures: Van Sertima’s Afrocentricity and the OlmecsHaslip-Viera, G et al. (xerox)

"¿Aguila o Sol?: Images of the Past in Contemporary Mexico" by J. Urcid (xerox);

"History and Patriotism in the National Museum of Mexico" by L.G. Morales-Moreno in MMO

"We, the Other. Archaeological Production and Regional Consumption in Tierra del Fuego (Argentina)" by H.J. Vidal (xerox)

 Creating Ethnicities, chaps. 2-6 by E. Roosens;



Week 11 – November 29th: Archaeology, Cultural and National

Heritage, and the Growing Business of Archaeological Tourism; video – Who Owns the Past; 4th Student Oral Presentations 


required readings:

MH – articles by Baram and Rowan, Ardren, Gabel and Handler, Bauman, Rowan, and Kohl

"Promised Lands and Chosen Peoples: The Politics and Poetics of Archaeological Narrative" by N.A. Silberman (NPPA);



suggested readings:

MH – article by Stark and Griffin


Week 12 – December 6th: Nations as Imagined Communities – a reconsideration – the thesis and its critique in light of the readings: 


required reading:

IC – entire


Week 13 – December 13th: The Historical Development of Nationalist Archaeology: Positive and Negative Characteristics; Intellectuals and the Construction of National Identities; the Historical Role of Intellectuals and Specialists in the Study of Ethnic and National Origins: Towards a Responsible Use of the Remote Past

required reading:

"Nationalism and Archaeology: On the Constructions of Nations and the Reconstructions of the Remote Past" by P.L. Kohl, Annual Review of Anthropology 1998: 223-246 (xerox);


suggested readings:

"Romanticism, Nationalism, and Archaeology" by B.G. Trigger (NPPA);

"Archaeology in the Service of the State: Theoretical Considerations" by P.L. Kohl and C. Fawcett (NPPA)

“Religion, Politics, and Prehistory: the life and writings of O. Menghin and their lingering legacy for culture-historical archaeology,” by P.L. Kohl and J. Perez Gollan

AHAT   - chaps. 4-5

SPNRE - parts I and IV.




Possible Short Essay Quiz – December 13th


Final Paper/Project - Due December 22nd