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Punctum of the contemporary past
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Archaeology.
2017 (English)In: Clashes of Time: The Contemporary Past as a Challange for Archaeology / [ed] Jean-Marie Blaising, Jan Driessen, Jean-Pierre Legendre, Laurent Olivier, Louvain: Presses universitaires de Louvain , 2017, p. 221-229Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A recurring question is what the archaeology of the contemporary past has contributed to our historical knowledge of the 20th century: what do we know now that we didn’t know before? This may indeed be a relevant question, but it is also too limited to do justice in an evaluation of the field. The scope of the archaeology of the contemporary past is not restricted to the adding to general historical knowledge; it is also to investigate how the material world influences our lives and shapes our understanding of the past. Roland Barthes’ concepts studium and punctum may be used to discuss the difference between a more conventional historical study of the contemporary past and an archaeological one. While the studium speaks to our intellect, the punctum addresses our emotions. The punctum is something that catches our attention; it is something we add ourselves but, according to Barthes: ‘what is nonetheless already there’. This paradox highlights the relation between what is in the eye of the beholder and what is governed by the material itself and therefore is beyond interpretation. I suggest that the punctum we find in the study of the contemporary past constitute a central aspect of general relevance for the archaeological discipline.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Louvain: Presses universitaires de Louvain , 2017. p. 221-229
Keywords [en]
archaeology, contemporary past, memory, punctum
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-150367ISBN: 9782875586254 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-150367DiVA, id: diva2:1167225
Available from: 2017-12-18 Created: 2017-12-18 Last updated: 2018-06-21Bibliographically approved

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