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After Neo-evolutionism and Processual Archaeology: Establishment and Development of the Political Economy Approach in Evolutionary Archaeology

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2015, (58), pp.109-152
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : July 12, 2015
  • Accepted : August 5, 2015

Park, Hae-Woon 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

North American and Western European archaeology underwent rapid paradigm shift from the mid-1970s. Post-processual archaeologists who refuted the uniformity and scientific rationality of human behaviours bitterly criticised the theoretical bases of processual archaeology based on neo-evolutionism in anthropology, which was the main theoretical framework of Western archaeology from the 1960s. Under this circumstance, a group archaeologists have insisted the multi-linear evolutionary processes of human societies by rejecting the general evolutionary perspective that human culture has unilinearly evolved. Neo-Marxism, which combines the class struggle theory of Marx with the Weberian conflict approach, provided the theoretical base of evolutionary archaeology based on the political economy perspective. In order to overcome the weakness point of traditional Marxism that social structure is only determined by economic substructure, they thought that the historical event occurred by political relations among various groups, which include status, sex, ethnic and age groups as well as classes is the most important factor to decide the direction of human evolution. Studies on the appearance and development of complex societies in Mesoamerica conducted by them well show the political economy perspective in archaeology. Firstly, political conflict between groups is one of the important causes to trigger social evolution. Secondly, social groups act for their interests. Thirdly, the execution of power is not an one-way street. Therefore, the dominant group has to make the ideological apparatus for legitimating their interests. Fourthly, the society is not maintained by only one managing principle. To summarise, archaeologists based on the political economy approach have recognised that the human itself is not a passive being who adapt environment and social system, but a active being who can change social structure dynamically. The key concept of the neo-Marxist archaeology is that human societies have evolved different directions by the political behaviours of the human being.

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