Deconstructing Interpretive Practice: Exploring How We Make Meaning in Archaeology

  • Natasha Lyons, Ursus Heritage Consulting and Simon Fraser University
  • Lisa Hodgetts, University of Western Ontario

Interpretation is at the heart and soul of archaeological practice yet at times becomes a rote process. Among our interpretive sins, we may draw uncritically on ethnographic analogy, rely on the sole theoretical lens of our formative academic years, limit ourselves to particular scales of analysis, and/or create blinders to particular modes of thinking. This session provides a venue for critical reflection on archaeological meaning-making. We ask participants to both consider and unpack the rationale(s) behind their own interpretive practices and their accompanying limitations and possibilities. This process may involve high-level deconstruction of your theoretical and methodological paradigms and practices, mid-level deconstruction of your interpretive process with a compelling body of data, or re-visiting a sequence of routine small-level steps that might be re-conceived to different effect. We ask you to articulate the implications and real-world outcomes of your interpretive choices. We invite contributions from a span of geographies, specialties, and orientations (including theories, methodologies, and practitioners).