Man Makes Himself: Archaeological Narratives of the Past

Professur für Ur- und Frühgeschichte, Ritterstraße 14, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
Central European Theoretical Archaeology Group; Ur- und Frühgeschichte, Universität Leipzig
12.09.2019 - 13.09.2019
Jan Johannes Miera

Storytelling is essential to human nature. By constantly creating narratives, man constitutes his identity and fulfils his sense of belonging. Narratives of the past provide an important point of reference in understanding our present and to seek purpose for the future. It is the sum of all individual and group-specific pasts, that defines the general understanding of what it means to be human. Archaeology offers unique perspectives on the history of mankind and contributes to the human condition as it studies cultural trajectories and the processes that have triggered the development of human societies. For example, archaeological narratives of the past may cover long term processes such as the Upper Palaeolithic revolution, the Neolithic revolution, or events such as the Varus' Battle of the Teutoburg Forest and its aftermath or individual biographies like the one of Ötzi the Iceman or the Egtved Girl.

On the occasion of the 6th international conference of CE-TAG, we invite you to discuss the general nature of archaeological narrativity. In this context, we would like to debate, where narrativity is present in our everyday research and whether it can or should be avoided. Is there still a need for grand narratives of mankind in modern societies? Furthermore, we would like to explore whether the increased use of methods from natural sciences affects the nature of archaeological narratives. For example, is there a comeback of old narratives or perhaps a loss of narrativity as archaeology moves closer to natural sciences?

Complementary, the structures of our narratives should be investigated. For example, scholars from the humanities such as Hayden White provided schemes, which also allow an analysis of narratives structures. We welcome case studies discussing whether schemes like these represent a profitable tool that opens up a new path to exploring the history of archaeology.

Finally, we welcome contributions discussing public and/or political conceptions of the past. Are there master narratives of the past that exist outside of archaeology and if so, how should archaeologists respond? Do archaeological narratives change as they are incorporated in public discourses or do archaeologists deliberately modify their narratives to a certain degree when they communicate with the public?

Presentations of 20 minutes with a subsequent ten minutes discussion are welcome.

The official language of the conference is English.

In order to provide coffee and cookies during the breaks a fee of 20€ will be collected.

Please send abstracts (250 words) of your paper proposals including your contact and affiliation details by 15th June 2019 to jan(@)


Jan Johannes Miera
Ritterstraße 14
04109 Leipzig

Man Makes Himself: Archaeological Narratives of the Past, 12.09.2019 – 13.09.2019 Leipzig, in: H-Soz-Kult, 10.04.2019, <>.
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