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Archaeology has, over the last decades, come to realise that its practice is far from neutral. Instead, it is a contested terrain, rife with attempts to reclaim the past for political, personal or communal purposes that sometimes fall outside the scope of academic archaeologies. Archaeologists have attempted to address the multitude of voices and alternative explanations offered by diverse groups and individuals and incorporate these in the archaeological process. Many original projects in different archaeological sites all over the world have incorporated local knowledge to enrich archaeological practices, and have simultaneously enhanced local engagement in producing and interpreting archaeological knowledge. Archaeologists have come to understand that their way of approaching the past is only one among many valid ways of doing so. Local ‘alternative archaeologies’, that is non-official engagements with the material past and their bewildering variety of methods, notions and valuations, are precisely what this part of the project is trying to explore.
We will be involved in a long-term ethnographic study of Poros, combining the time-honed methods of anthropological participant observation with novel methodologies developed by archaeological ethnographic projects elsewhere in the world. Aris Anagnostopoulos will spend a year in Poros island for this purpose, from April 2008 onwards. Our aim is to situate the archaeological project in the social context of the island and simultaneously trace the ways in which locals engage with the ancient past and its material remains. For this purpose, Yannis Hamilakis and Aris Anagnostopoulos will collect stories, memories, folktales, archival information and other relevant material that will aid us to comprehend the variety of this engagement.
The ultimate aim of our project is to incorporate local knowledge into the archaeological method, and achieve a closer collaboration between interested communities and the Kalaureia project itself. To this end, we are planning to implement a series of activities, talks and publications that will stem from our deeper ethnographic understanding of the locality, its desires and needs, its understanding of the materiality of the past in the present. The goal is to establish channels of communication between archaeologists and various local and trans-local communities, from the inhabitants of Poros and the surrounding area, to tourists, and to the interested public which can experience the site through various means, from print publication to the internet. Central to this attempt will be the site of the Poseidon sanctuary itself, and we will try to mediate between excavators and the interested public, to achieve appropriate access and presentation of the finds. Simultaneously, however, we aim to bring to the fore local knowledge of the ancient past in the greater area, and attempt to elaborate on this knowledge in order to broaden ‘orthodox’ archaeological approaches. We welcome any suggestion and comment from the interested public, and we would like to hear from people who have visited the site:
--What is your knowledge, views, ideas, impressions and feelings about it?
--Have you heard of any stories and legends associated with the site?
--How can we make this site more accessible and open to the public, and how can we incorporate some of the local knowledge about it into its exhibition and presentation?
If you can help, please email Aris Anagnostopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org