, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 215-218
Date: 06 Aug 2010

Comments by Peter R. Schmidt

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“Consensus and the Fringe in American Archaeology” by Alice Kehoe holds poignant lessons for archaeologists of all world regions. As an Africanist archaeologist, I naturally see Kehoe’s arguments through a lens filtered by archaeological practice and thought in Africa. Yet simultaneously, as an American trained archaeologist I quickly recognize and resonate with the issues that she makes so diaphanous within American archaeology. I am struck by the strong parallels between American archaeology and postcolonial archaeologies in Africa, similarities that suggest that both venues suffer from similar syndromes—colonial legacies that: (1) venerate and legitimate the gatekeepers of knowledge; and (2) the systematic silencing and marginalization of those who conduct empirical research with results that substantively overturn mainstream orthodoxies.

Kehoe’s discussion of normative science and the maintenance of “Core Systems” of knowledge sounds much like what occurs in the pr ...