Selective Remembrances

Archaeology in the Construction, Commemoration, and Consecration of National Pasts

by Philip L. Kohl, Mara Kozelsky,

When political geography changes, how do reorganized or newly formed states justify their rule and create a sense of shared history for their people? Often, the essays in Selective Remembrances reveal, they turn to archaeology, employing the field and its findings to develop nationalistic feelings and forge legitimate distinctive national identities.

Examining such relatively new or reconfigured nation-states as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, India, and Thailand, Selective Remembrances shows how states invoke the remote past to extol the glories of specific peoples or prove claims to ancestral homelands. Religion has long played a key role in such efforts, and the contributors take care to demonstrate the tendency of many people, including archaeologists themselves, to view the world through a religious lens—which can be exploited by new regimes to suppress objective study of the past and justify contemporary political actions.

The wide geographic and intellectual range of the essays in Selective Remembrances will make it a seminal text for archaeologists and historians.
  • University of Chicago Press; November 2008
  • ISBN 9780226450643
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Selective Remembrances
  • Author: Philip L. Kohl (ed.); Mara Kozelsky (ed.); Nachman Ben-Yehuda (ed.)
  • Imprint: University of Chicago Press

In The Press

“With their highly topical and tightly focused studies, the contributors to this volume reach beyond standard assertions of links between archaeology and nationalism. As they show, archaeology may have developed in conjunction with the declining model of the ‘modern’ nation state, but its powerful capacity to concretize the past in scientifically sanctioned lieux de mémoire remains all the more pertinent today, when dealing with far more fluid and contested configurations of global, national, and religious identities.”

— Nathan Schlanger, AREA–Archives of European Archaeology

“In this deeply intriguing and appealing book, expert contributors explore a wide and varied set of political, cultural, and ethical issues. Not only will this excellent collection be formative for the history and practice of archaeology for years to come, but it may also be hotly debated in the various regions it describes.”
— Suzanne Marchand, Louisiana State University

“Over the last twenty or so years, scholars have increasingly recognized the ways in which archeology and the state are, for better or worse, intertwined. Building on earlier work on this relationship, the essays in Selective Remembrances advance the discussion by noting the significant changes in national identity and nationalism, particularly in the last ten years. The essays are uniformly excellent, and Kohl, Kozelsky, and Ben-Yehuda’s introduction provides a landmark synthesis for future work.”

— Jeffrey K. Olick, University of Virginia

"A fascinating collection."
— Madeleine Hummler, Antiquity

"An important contribution to the literature on archaeology, nationalism, and memory studies. . . . Unlike many edited volumes, Selective Remembrances is distinguished by consistently high-quality contributions and an introduction that admirably delineates the themes that bring together the different case studies."
— Leyla Neyzi, American Journal of Sociology

About The Author

Philip Kohl is professor of anthropology and the Davis Professor of Slavic Studies at Wellesley College. Mara Kozelsky is assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama. Nachman Ben-Yehuda is professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.