There are a number of points that we would like to raise in this piece of writing about authority and the determination of a subject. But it is not so much each of these points that seem to be of the greatest significance to archaeology and the identity of other subjects - for example, the origin of this identity, and the political and economic investments which we make in order to discover the continuity of our identity generally. Thereby is sustained the legitimate (where ‘legitimate’ means, at the same time, the lawful, the hereditary, by unquestioningly acceding to the rules that determine a single, rightful line of descent; where legitimate also, therefore, means phallocentric - or more accurately ethno-phallocentric, according to the rules which define the non-bastard field, the proper, continuous, determinable field of operation; so that legitimate must also mean the permissibly named) integrity of a subject, such as archaeology. On the contrary, it is not so much any of these individual points which have aroused our special interest in this piece of writing - all of these points have been raised and discussed at length for the past fifteen or so years by my father in conjunction with his political activities in the Communist Party and as a fitter in the construction industry and as a member of the AEU, together with his work in a domestic environment as a father; by Virginia Savage’s Auntie Greta in discussions, particularly on a Sunday afternoon, about the problematics of her own identity as an electrical-circuit assembler and member of a very tightly knit family community - the discussions were and still are at their most intense during the viewing of a football match on television, when other disruptions to a stable identity are brought into play; by Vicky Beaumont in her fourth-year essay on the film Stand By Me for her GCSE English Literature folder; and by Richard, the barman, at the New Road Inn. Perhaps it should also be mentioned at this point, before we proceed any further, that others, writers, whose work is produced within, and, we must for the moment assume, is directed towards educational, institutions
(their work is very rarely needed outside this institutional arena and containment) and - it has generally been accepted, is exclusively concerned with post-structuralist theory - is considerably less political than ideas presented by my father, Virginia Savage’s Auntie Greta, Vicky Beaumont and Richard the barman. I am thinking, of course, of the following writers: Eddie Frank, who, in 1988 was a member of the fifth year at Beauchamp Community College; Lisa Ablett who, a year earlier was a member of the fifth year of the same educational institution, was pre-occupied in much of her work with Hegelian dialectics and the idealisation of meaning within the development of a concept. Also, to name but one other, Danny Hackshaw, whose most recent work on speech acts, whilst doubting the veracity of speech act theory, refuses, still, to engage with the issue of the political and economic investments that have guaranteed, within this domain, the integrity of not only the subject of speech and theory. He also questions the determination, through this investment, of the transcendental nature of the speaking subject as already constituted by itself, without any reference to the material field of language within which its identity is made possible and the social context which holds this field in place. In this sense Danny Hackshaw’s criticism of speech and theory provides a useful example, in more ways than one, of the features which, in this piece of writing, seem to us to be quite remarkable (not the least remarkable being the persistence with which the rhetorical logic of legitimacy authorises and identifies the speaking subject, as indeed it does of all subjects, whilst erasing evidence of this rhetorical determinacy from the written scene. For here we are not simply concerned with the assumption of the authority of the archaeologist in determining archaeology - its practice, its field, its context, its place, its legitimacy, its (ir)relevance, its (in)significance - and its discoveries - its recoveries of itself, its objects (subjects), its dominance over them, and, according to its laws, the system of its primogeniture, its own outrageous production of their being. Nor are we only concerned to examine the claimed renunciation of this determinacy, the rhetorical moves which designate this as being already there, of archaeology not being determined by political and economic investment, of being itself as indetermined but there anyway.2 No, we don’t want simply to discuss this - after all archaeology, here, is redundant, finished in this purely idealistic sense (where do they, the archaeologists, keep the past these days?). But what we are also interested in, in this piece of writing, is that even in the midst of such a critique of the anthropology of the subject, which, by making use of the metaphor of writing hopes to displace the author from the scene as the anonymous producer of an archaeological text, another authority must in the same moment be brought into the text to determine its place, function and legitimacy within the archaeological field in general. All that this
switching amounts to, this relentless digging in one place instead of in another for buried treasure according to the legitimating authority of another line of de(s)cent, is the legitimation of a subject which not too secretly knows that its time is really up. We would therefore like to outline, to demarcate, a very brief history of this piece of writing and most importantly of all its context. That is, we would like to assess the archaeological record. And within this demarcation of the past, the production of an archaeological record in itself, we would like it to be noted that a number of changes have been made, changes of a legitimate order, hence our position now; after all, a degree of jiggery-pokery in the archaeological record is always permissible, indeed is normal practice - it is in fact this ordering which normally makes up the record itself. But what do we know of order, of context, of order’s proper context and how this is achieved, of legitimate context, of its lawful difficulties and its solutions, of its appropriate reason and judicious findings? For some reason then, for an examination of some of archaeology’s most famous reasons and its archaeological site, which is perhaps even the privileged ethnoarchaeological site of its manufacture, let us turn, but briefly, so as to avoid the dizziness of its apparent kaleidoscopic vision, to Ian Hodder. As Ian Hodder (1986a; 1987b) seems to admit, there are a number of
difficulties that stem from this intersection of a contextual archaeology, difficulties which, if not constrained, would undermine the authority of his contextual project; these are difficulties which cannot simply be confined to or by the methodology through which the laborious construct of the beginning, the origin, is written - whether it is expressed in the fidelity of the past or the transcendent innateness of ethnic identity. It is the only concern of the archaeologist: the origin, its authenticity, its birth, its purity and integrity. This is the expressed desire of archaeology as long-term history, which clearly articulates ‘the need for archaeologists to examine the origin’ (Hodder 1987a, 8), and asserts against all else that ‘concerns with “origins” are important’ (Hodder 1987a, 4). It is, however, an obsession which, in common with the way in which many obsessional neuroses have been described (Freud 1984), moves away from its own origin, displacing it from the written scene where it was inscribed, abstracting it from its material context of production, as an origin apart, already, to be discussed by a methodology which traces its path along another route from the institution and the practices and privileges where the origin was conceived, securing it ideally at this distance of assurance. In this way, this rhetorical distance from the origin, and all that the origin stands for, guarantees two points. Firstly it permits, according to its own rules of differentiation, its own writing of context. A distinction here is to be made between the subject (the discipline of archaeology, its status, funding, and bureaucracy, its hierarchies, its methodologies and theorisa tions, its history, the formulation of its beliefs and practices, the
determination of its proper domain of study, indeed, all of archaeology’s discretions, its delicate attempts to keep itself to itself) and its organisation. As part of the latter, we must consider archaeology’s objects - objects which, (tauto)logically, but also distantly, tendentiously, in a way which seems far off and so might not be noticed with a discrete and therefore contextual vision, must occur within the field of archaeology generally, as determined by its status, its funding and bureaucracy, its hierarchies, its methodologies etc. - and their organisa tion. Secondly this distance from the origin, between the subject and its objects, ensures that all of archaeology’s practices will be validated by their findings in the field. Spectacularly, then, archaeology will be able to justify itself by its own discoveries in another place, its other place, its proper place, which (legitimately, expertly) is where it intended (discreetly, appropriately) to find them. Thus the practices of archaeology become, in the field (its field) a ‘pattern playing, inductive exercise’ (Hodder 1987a, 8). Again, in common with the ways in which obsessional neuroses have been described in the past as movements away from their origin through acts of displacement, of duplications of space and their topological organisation in another location, even though acts of transference maybe, it is thus naturally ‘Archaeologists [who] have the ability to watch the way in which variability in one realm [the ethnoarchaeological realm in which archaeology’s privileges are ordered, the space in which its funding is secured] becomes adopted to take a dominant position’ (Hodder 1987a, 7). A dominant position, that is, contextually speaking, in its other realm, its appropriately organised place of study - whether this is East Africa, the neolithic, or a pet-food factory. It is naturally archaeologists because ‘ideologies involving naturalisation are involved’ (Hodder 1987a, 7). But how do these ideologies which involve naturalisation take place?