Iceland > Brazil #worldinterview #13

Iceland > Brazil

Interviewee: Artur Henrique Franco Barcelos

Do you think academic departments need to demonstrate ‘relevance’ to public audiences – if so what are the challenges?

Yes, certainly. The main challenge is to break with the academic conception of knowledge and to create strategies of dialogues with the external public.. But this will only be possible if academic archaeologists understand the importance of the debates proposed by Public Archaeology.

How do you see digital technology contributing to the interpretation and research agendas for archaeologists and anthropologists in the future?

I believe that digital tools, however advanced, continue to play the same role as drawings and photographs do in the archaeological works of the nineteenth century. Its use can never replace solid theoretical training and a capacity for reflection on the data facilitated by technology.

What role to archaeologists play in holding those in power accountable?

This depends on what power we are talking about. If it is political power, this varies from country to country, according to the local laws on the archaeological heritage, its research and its preservation. In this case, archaeologists must know the law and organize ways to participate directly or indirectly in political bodies. If we are talking about power in a generic way, it is up to archaeologists to recognize the forms and practices of power with which they are dealing, especially when dealing with fragile communities in relation to political and economic power.

In what way do you see archaeology changing as the 21st century progresses?

I believe there are two possible paths to archaeology in the face of significant changes in terms of rights and social struggles in the 21st century. And also in terms of the very issues surrounding science. On the one hand, archaeology can remain closed in its idea that it is the science that studies the past through material culture, preferably ancient. And so she will be exempt from engaging in controversial issues. On the other hand, the archaeology may see material culture as a way of understanding certain aspects of the human being, both past and present. This will lead to an epistemological revolution and will allow archaeology to escape the old concepts. In the same way, it will make archaeologists necessarily involved in the issues of their time, leaving the grid to fight the struggles of the present.

About Artur:

Associate Professor of the Bachelor of Archaeology of the Federal University of Rio Grande FURG, Brazil.

Artur wrote Espaço e Arqueologia nas Missões Jesuíticas: o caso de São João Batista (2000) and O Mergulho no Seculum: exploração, conquista e organização espacial jesuítica na América Espanhola Colonial (2013). He is also the author of many papers and book chapters on these topics. His main research interest is in Latin American History, with an emphasis on the history of the Rio de la Plata region. His other research interests include evangelization in colonial Latin America, Jesuit missions, geohistory, cartography, space, patrimony, historical archaeology, and material culture. Artur is the head of the H.E.C.A.T.E.U’s Lab (American History and Cartography: Space, Territory, and Urbanism), where he leads several projects related to Jesuit cartography.

He is also the manager of the website www.culturamaterial.com.br

Questions from Gísli Pálsson in Iceland.

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