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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

Overall, this book is a wonderful ethnography of the Methanites and their interactions through and with the craggy landscape of Methana. The second part of the book’s title, An Archaeological Ethnography, however, implies a balance between the two approaches that is not quite fulfilled in the rest of the book. Although the archaeology is subtly interwoven throughout the narrative, taking the history back even further would have given a much richer illustration of the landscape. The rigorous ethnographic approach, however, provides many possible new avenues for archaeological investigation. Part of the success of this ethnography seems to be tied with Forbes’s efforts to become a ‘marginal native’. When there is a living population to work with, you have the ability to carefully monitor how well you are navigating the line between ‘objective outsider’ and someone who is an accepted part of the group. Experiences such as participating in farming allowed access to vast amounts of information given voluntarily that may have not been offered had that liminal identity not been maintained. How can such an approach be applied to the archaeological record, in which the population being studied is not present to provide a check for the researcher? Is this ‘marginal native’ (despite the vocabulary) a way to move closer to post-colonial archaeology? Also, a great deal of information was gained by letting the subjects take the conversation in whichever direction they chose. How can this more hands-off approach be applied to archaeological situations that are much more invasive and destructive?

In chapter 6, the use of analysis at the economic level is said to be the household, not the community (201-202). How does this fit into the previously stated goal to move away from assuming European communities are organized by families rather than by kinship? If it should be analyzed by households, how does kinship factor within the economic scheme? How does the settlement type of the kalivia fit within the households or kingroups?

Another just criticism of the archaeological approach to past populations settlement patterns and economic interests was stated from pages 184-189. Is there another way to visually depict this data with the history and other non-ecologically determinant factors that are so well laid-out within this book? Can applications such as GIS and Remote Sensing play a role or would this fall into the Western scholar’s trap of a presumed ‘objective observer’?