The Ethics of Mesolithic Practice or Slaying Zombies in 2022

Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / WebinarOral presentation


Whilst the ethics of archaeological practice on the global stage have been extensively debated and developed in relation to the dynamics of changing social contexts, ethical tensions within European Prehistory is seldom articulated. This paper aims to address this, and in doing so break new ground within the underexplored field of Mesolithic research ethics. It will reflect on an ongoing conversation between the author and several colleagues from across the disciplinary spectrum concerning the colonial tropes that underpin much of knowledge produced by Mesolithic research, the impact that this has on contemporary peoples externally defined as hunter-gatherers, and the changes in research practice that might be required to address these issues. The paper argues that, despite decades of rigorous critique, the concept of hunter-gatherers persists within our understandings of the past as what Ulrich Beck would describe as a zombie category (Beck & Willms 2004). It will examine the ethical challenges that this zombie creates, the forces that continue to animate it, and the costs and benefits to bringing it down. This paper is intentionally open ended. It represents one position amongst many, and the author will invite (and sometimes provoke!) responses and discussion on the subjects raised. He is looking forward to listening to your thoughts on this as much as he is speaking to you.
Period2 Dec 2022
Held atUniversity of Tromsø, Norway
Degree of RecognitionInternational