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Nick Shepherd

The uncreated man. A story of archaeology and imagination

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What is the place of imagination in archaeology? This paper works with a set of materials from the deep archive of the South African archaeologist John Goodwin (1900-59) to explore the relationship between archaeology and imagination. The first half of the paper focuses on a short story written by Goodwin, describing the accidental creation and subsequent 'uncreation' of an indigenous person of the Cape (described in the story as a 'Hottentot') by the gods on Olympus. The second half of the paper describes two encounters in life between Goodwin and indigenous people of the Cape (the first with the so-called 'Tweerivieren Bushmen', exhibited in life at the Empire Exhibition of 1936; the second with the human remains from Oakhurst Cave). Encounters in life, in death and in imagination, the terms of these three episodes double and repeat one another in the different forms of writing to which they give rise (the imagined world of the short story, and the 'bare description' of Goodwin's archaeological texts). At the centre of each is the haunted figure of the 'Bushman'/'Hottentot', a being whose status is figured as a kind of 'death-in-life'. In my telling, forms of actual and epistemic violence are never far from these events. Looking, showing and telling are described as activities which range across a set of characteristic sites: the body, the archive and the grave. In so doing, they summon their counterparts, the categories of the unspeakable and the untellable.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftArchaeological Dialogues
Vol/bind19
Nummer2
Sider (fra-til)171-194
Antal sider24
ISSN1380-2038
DOI
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2012

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