Dissertation defense: Anne Duray
"The Idea of Greek (Pre)history: Archaeological Knowledge Production and the Making of ‘Early Greece,’ c. 1950-1980”
This dissertation interrogates the relationships between archaeological practice and broader intellectual trends surrounding the study of the Late Bronze Age (LBA) – Early Iron Age (EIA) transition in Greece, and, in doing so, presents a case study of mechanisms of archaeological knowledge production in Greek archaeology. In contrast to current historiographical treatments of the LBA-EIA transition, I frame my inquiry around disciplinary "negotiations," rather than "divides," and systematically include archival materials to trace the development of scholarly networks, research agendas, and practices. I demonstrate that the LBA-EIA transition was a focalization of the larger debate concerning the relationship between prehistoric and historic Greece, which arose in the late 19th century, and that the study of early Greece has been affected by changing understandings of culture and continuity. As cultural evolutionism and race gradually lost ground as indicators of cultural continuity in the post-WWII period, the interpretation of the archaeological record of the LBA-EIA transition was treated with a new empiricism but at the same time was increasingly beholden to historicizing narratives and models. While innovations in archaeological method have contributed to the study of early Greece, the reception and idealization of Western and Classical civilization have continued to remain in the background of the LBA-EIA transition. This begs the provocative question—do archaeological data or the terms of the debate itself have a greater impact on knowledge production?
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