Archaeology and the governance of material culture: a case study from south-eastern Australia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • L. Smith


Publication details

JournalNorwegian Archaeological Review
DatePublished - Oct 2001
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)97-105
Original languageEnglish


What are the consequences of using the discourse of archaeological knowledge in cultural heritage management (CHM)? In this article the inter-relationship of archaeological theory and practice, CHM and the politics of identity is analysed, using as a case study the history of archaeological and CHM practice in south-eastern Australia. A critical reading of Foucault's 'govemmentality' thesis illustrates how archaeological knowledge has come to play a role in the regulation and arbitration of Aboriginal cultural identity in south-eastern Australia. In effect, archaeological knowledge becomes mobilized by public policy-makers as a 'technology of government' and becomes implicated in the governance of cultural identity. Further consequences of this process are that material culture, as 'heritage', becomes a resource of power in the politics of identity and archaeological practice, and theory itself, becomes regulated, or 'governed', by its inclusion in CHM.

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