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May 17 2013

Possessing the Past: The use and abuse of archaeology in building nation-states


Historical artefacts can be used as a powerful tool to reinforce group identity and forge a nation-state, but their use can have adverse consequences such as the oppression of minorities.

A diagram is used to summarise the complex identity relationships between states and nations. The power of historical artefacts derives from the duality of their nature; they are both a concrete proof of an historical fact and the basis for an abstract construction of meaning. Three case studies are used to provide examples of the use and abuse of archaeology.

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