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Looting deconstructed: a study of non-professional engagements with the material past in Kozani, Greece

Looting deconstructed: a study of non-professional engagements with the material past in Kozani, Greece
Looting deconstructed: a study of non-professional engagements with the material past in Kozani, Greece
In dominant archaeological discourse, looting has been primarily discussed in connection with its assumed profit-related motives and the destruction it causes to the archaeological context of antiquities. Such ways of thinking, however valid they may be in some instances, result in an inadequate representation and understanding of looting, which conflates diverse forms of non-professional digging and search for antiquities, ignores the socio-cultural contexts they are embedded within, and undermines or disregards the objectives or perspectives of those perceived as ‘looters’. This thesis addresses these problems and attempts to deconstruct the blanket conceptualisation of looting that assimilates and denounces a range of acts, from a failure to register an antiquity, the unauthorised possession of an artefact, to an object’s sale for subsistence purposes. In light of this, I present and interpret cases of non-professional digging and collection (but not sale) of relics gathered from ethnographic research amongst local communities in Kozani in north-western Greece.

The results of the ethnographic research, interwoven with the critically analysed impact of official archaeology’s epistemology and practice (applied in Greece and elsewhere), offers a multi-layered understanding of looting, which goes beyond professionalised notions and ethics. I contend that rather than being inspired by economic objectives, looting phenomena often involve an array of diverse, complex and ambiguous social activities, embedded in daily practices. This study of looting is essentially a study of non-professionals, who physically engage with the material past, in order to control the past’s materiality and symbolic meaning and eventually construct social power for themselves.

On one level, it attempts to scrutinize the complex forms of reaction and resistance of ordinary people towards official archaeology. On a deeper level, it hopes to reveal the hybrid character of seemingly opposing practices. The control over antiquities and the desire for the symbolic and social power it generates, transcend professional and non-professional behaviours towards the material past.
Antoniadou, Ioanna
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Antoniadou, Ioanna
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Hamilakis, Yannis
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Johnson, Matthew
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Marshall, Yvonne
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Sophronidou, Marina
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Varkatsa, Foteini
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Penoglidis, Damianos
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Antoniadou, Ioanna (2014) Looting deconstructed: a study of non-professional engagements with the material past in Kozani, Greece. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 273pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

In dominant archaeological discourse, looting has been primarily discussed in connection with its assumed profit-related motives and the destruction it causes to the archaeological context of antiquities. Such ways of thinking, however valid they may be in some instances, result in an inadequate representation and understanding of looting, which conflates diverse forms of non-professional digging and search for antiquities, ignores the socio-cultural contexts they are embedded within, and undermines or disregards the objectives or perspectives of those perceived as ‘looters’. This thesis addresses these problems and attempts to deconstruct the blanket conceptualisation of looting that assimilates and denounces a range of acts, from a failure to register an antiquity, the unauthorised possession of an artefact, to an object’s sale for subsistence purposes. In light of this, I present and interpret cases of non-professional digging and collection (but not sale) of relics gathered from ethnographic research amongst local communities in Kozani in north-western Greece.

The results of the ethnographic research, interwoven with the critically analysed impact of official archaeology’s epistemology and practice (applied in Greece and elsewhere), offers a multi-layered understanding of looting, which goes beyond professionalised notions and ethics. I contend that rather than being inspired by economic objectives, looting phenomena often involve an array of diverse, complex and ambiguous social activities, embedded in daily practices. This study of looting is essentially a study of non-professionals, who physically engage with the material past, in order to control the past’s materiality and symbolic meaning and eventually construct social power for themselves.

On one level, it attempts to scrutinize the complex forms of reaction and resistance of ordinary people towards official archaeology. On a deeper level, it hopes to reveal the hybrid character of seemingly opposing practices. The control over antiquities and the desire for the symbolic and social power it generates, transcend professional and non-professional behaviours towards the material past.

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Published date: 1 February 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Philosophy

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 366612
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/366612
PURE UUID: 9fa96de7-2e23-4d6a-821d-f71f598a0cf4

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Date deposited: 16 Oct 2014 12:22
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 02:09

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Contributors

Author: Ioanna Antoniadou
Thesis advisor: Yannis Hamilakis
Thesis advisor: Matthew Johnson
Thesis advisor: Yvonne Marshall
Thesis advisor: Marina Sophronidou
Thesis advisor: Foteini Varkatsa
Thesis advisor: Damianos Penoglidis

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