The Enchantment of the Archaeological Record

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Empirical studies increasingly testify to the capacity for archaeological and cultural heritage sites to engender wonder, transformation, attachment, and community bonding among diverse individuals. Following political theorist Jane Bennett, these sites have the power to ‘enchant’ and, in so doing, they are seedbeds of human generosity, ethical mindfulness, and care for the world at large. However, the means by which such enchantment is created, and the extent to which these intimate encounters with the prehistoric or historic record can be deliberately crafted, are little understood. Worsening the predicament, professional practices commonly thwart the potential for archaeology to provoke ethical action amongst humans. Here, I propose a multi-stranded conceptual model for generating enchantment with the archaeological record across both professional audiences and broader publics. With reference to the European Commission-funded EMOTIVE Project, I articulate one particular strand of this model: facilitated dialogue. Alongside exploring the role of digital culture in its advancement, I argue that an enchantment-led approach is imperative for achieving a truly socially-beneficial archaeological discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Archaeology
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

© European Association of Archaeologists 2019. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Professional Practice
  • cultural heritage
  • Museums
  • Emotion
  • digital technologies
  • archaeological method
  • enchantment

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