Response or Comment
University of Chicago Press
Ghisleni adds an additional voice to the growing chorus of archaeologists dissatisfied with conventional approaches to understanding the material evidence for intercultural entanglements. Particularly troublesome in this regard is the stubborn idea that continuity and change are two mutually exclusive trajectories initiated at the moment of contact. Such formulations lead to a priori assumptions about material culture that limit the ability of archaeologists to trace the complex relationships resulting from such encounters. In seeking to break down the dichotomous thinking that has pervaded the archaeological study of the Roman Empire and its local instantiations, Ghisleni offers an alternative that treats continuity not as the simple replication of earlier practices but as both contingent and emergent. In other words, continuity is structured by the past, but the path taken ultimately reflects only one of many possible ways forward. Seeing continuity and change as mutually constitutive directs archaeologists away from teleological narratives and toward amore temporally sensitive method for understanding the complexities of identity and practice.
Panich, Lee M. (2018). Comment on “Contingent Persistence: Continuity, Change, and Identity in the Romanization Debate” by Lara Ghisleni, Current Anthropology 59(2):158-159. https://doi.org/10.1086/697112