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Illuminating Vestige: Amateur Archaeology and the Emergence of Historical Consciousness in Rural France

Hodges, Matt (2013) Illuminating Vestige: Amateur Archaeology and the Emergence of Historical Consciousness in Rural France. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 55 (2). pp. 474-504. ISSN 0010-4175. (doi:10.1017/S0010417513000108) (KAR id:33758)

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This article provides a historical ethnography of an abrupt and transient awakening of interest in Roman vestige during the 1970s in rural France, and explores its implications for comparative understanding of historical consciousness in Western Europe. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Languedoc, and particularly the commune of Monadières, it details a vogue for collecting pottery shards scattered in a nearby lagoon that developed among local inhabitants. The article frames this as a ritualized “expressive historicity” emergent from political economic restructuring, cultural transformation, and time-space compression. It analyses the catalyzing role of a historian who introduced discursive forms into the commune for symbolizing the shards, drawn from regionalist and socialist historiography, which local people adapted to rearticulate the historicity of lived experience as a novel, hybrid genre of “historical consciousness.” These activities are conceptualized as a “reverse historiography.” Elements of historiographical and archaeological discourses—for example, chronological depth, collation and evaluation of material relics—are reinvented to alternate ends, partly as a subversive “response” to contact with such discourses. The practice emerges as a mediation of distinct ways of apprehending the world at a significant historical juncture. Analysis explores the utility of new anthropological theories of “historicity”—an alternative to the established “historical idiom” for analyzing our relations with the past—which place historiography within the analytical frame, and enable consideration of the temporality of historical experience. Findings suggest that the alterity of popular Western cultural practices for invoking the past would reward further study.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0010417513000108
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Matthew Hodges
Date Deposited: 01 May 2013 16:03 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:11 UTC
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