Ethical Issues in Historical Archaeology

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Ethical Issues in Historical Archaeology

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International Handbook of Historical Archaeology


Beaudry, Mary C.


Gaimster, David and Majewski, Teresita 

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New York, NY

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Book Chapter


Abstract: Archaeologist and philosopher of science Alison Wylie has observed that the very identity of archaeology as a discipline is closely linked to how its practitioners frame their concerns around ethical issues (Wylie, 1996). Prior to the late 1970s, most archaeologists developed a sense of ethically appropriate behavior on more or less an individual, ad hoc basis, relying upon whatever role models presented themselves during graduate training and upon subsequent personal experience in the office or in the field. This informal and highly idiosyncratic approach to professional ethics is not serviceable in the contemporary milieu in which archaeology is practiced, as Brian Fagan (1993) and others have noted. A series of developments since the 1970s reflect the growing sense among professional archaeologists, particularly those working in the United States and the United Kingdom, that they need some sort of structured approach to deal with the ethical issues they confront.

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