In a piece from the November issue of The New Inquiry, anthropologist Uzma Rizvi evokes a trip to an archeological dig in the UAE and explores what it means to practice "decolonial" archeology. A snippet is below:
What better way to rearrange colonial orderings of the ancient world than to employ a methodology that rides the line between disgust and desire. An impulse to decolonize archaeological methodology is one that recognizes that the invisible hierarchies of knowledge construction are considered normative empiricism. And that ability for science to make inequity invisible is what is really dirty, disgusting and epistemically unjust. The masking of such inequity impacts every form of landscape. This encompasses not only flavor profiles and more commonly, the geomorphological, but also, landscapes of research, of memories, the intangible and of the people themselves.
It is on such a fine line that this essay rests as it attempts to understand deeply and intimately a landscape of fluidity and urbanity. The process of knowing this landscape is necessarily slow because when I am close to the earth time collapses, pushing me away. I find myself trying to articulate the third millennium BCE eastern coastline of the UAE, and yet, without time, the landscape itself slips in and out of focus, resisting my archaeological gaze and silencing my study. I am forced out of teleological formulations of how the archaeological survey is constructed. I find myself balancing on a sliver, a stance that allows me to employ an archaeological understanding of a concern with the contemporary as being singularly of this time yet resolutely employing a critical distance.
Image via The New Inquiry.