Archaeology is in crisis. Spatial turns, material turns and the ontological turn have directed the discipline away from its hard-won battle to find humanity in the past. Meanwhile, popularised science, camouflaged as archaeology, produces shock headlines built on ancient DNA that reduce humanity’s most intriguing historical problems to two-dimensional caricatures. Today archaeology finds itself less able than ever to proclaim its relevance to the modern world.
This volume foregrounds the relevance of the scholarship of John Barrett to this crisis. Twenty-four writers representing three generations of archaeologists scrutinise the current turmoil in the discipline and highlight the resolutions that may be found through Barrett’s analytical framework. Topics include archaeology and the senses, the continuing problem of the archaeological record, practice, discourse, and agency, reorienting archaeological field practice, the question of different expressions of human diversity, and material ecologies. Understanding archaeology as both a universal and highly specific discipline, case-studies range from the Aegean to Orkney, and encompass Anatolia, Korea, Romania, United Kingdom and the very nature of the Universe itself. This critical examination of John Barrett’s contribution to archaeology is simultaneously a response to his urgent call to arms to reorient archaeology in the service of humanity.