Interpretive Archaeology and Its Role
Author(s): Ian Hodder
Source: American Antiquity, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan., 1991), pp. 7-18 Published by: Society for American Archaeology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/280968 .
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AND ITS ROLE
Thispaperseeksfurtherto definethe processesof the interpretation f meaningin archaeology nd to explore o
the public role such interpretation ight play. In contrastto postmodernand poststructuralist erspectives, p
hermeneuticdebate is describedthat takes account of a criticalperspective. n interpretive ostprocessual rp a
chaeologyneeds to incorporate hreecomponents: guardedobjectivity f the data, hermeneutic roceduresor o
inferringinternalmeanings,and reflexivity.The call for an interpretive osition is relatedclosely to new, more w
activeroles that the archaeological ast is filling in a multicultural orld. p
Este articulointentadefinirlos procesosde la interpretaci6n e significaci6n n arqueologia explorarel papel y
publicoqueesta interpretaci6n odria lener.En contrastecon la perspectiva ostmodernista postestructuralista, p
el debate hermeneuticoincluye una perspectivacrftica. Una arqueologiainterpretativa ostprocessual ecesita p
incorporar res componentes:una estrictaobjectividad e los datos, procedimientos ermeneuticos ara inferir p
significadosinternos,y reflexividad. l interesen una posicion interpretativastd relacionadoa papeles nuevos y mds activosque el pasado arqueol6gico umpleen un mundo multicultural. c
What is interpretation and why does it seem an appropriate term to use in the archaeology of the 1990s? In this paper I hope to answer both these questions. While I have elsewhere discussed interpretation in terms of a contextual approach (Hodder 1986), I have not situated the latter in relation to wider traditions except the rather outdated views of Collingwood (1946). I intend in this paper to provide a wider definition of contextual archaeology within an interpretive framework. This article will discuss hermeneutics as an important component in an interpretive or contextual archaeology. For many writers, hermeneutics is more than an epistemology for the human sciences in that it accounts for being. I recently came across a good example of the everyday working of hermeneutic principles while listening to the radio in the United States. I heard the phrase, or thought I did, "it was necessary to indoor suffering." Inspecting these "data" I first thought the phrase was an example of the liberty that North Americans often take with the English language. After all, North Americans often make nouns and
andjectives into verbs (as in "to deplane"), so it
seemed entirely possible that "to indoor suffering" meant "to take suffering indoors." I did not see why it should be necessary to suffer indoors, but then I know that North Americans, especially if they live in California from where the program came, are willing to try anything. So initially I understood the term as it sounded to me and assumed...