Yannis Hamilakis: Archaeology, Nation and Race Interview with Kostas Stoforos

“The Greek national archaeology still refuses to narrate to the millions of visitors the rich and fascinating history of the Acropolis, from the Neolithic era to the present day.”

The book that has emerged from the collaboration and dialogue of two archaeologists, Israeli Raphael Greenberg and Yiannis Hamilakis, titled “Archaeology, Nation, and Race – Confronting the Past, Decolonizing the Future in Greece and Israel”, raises many important issues regarding the political and ideological use of archaeology and its findings.

This is a topic that is constantly in the spotlight in both countries for different reasons. The dialogic form of the book helps the reader to approach more easily the problematic issues raised by the two scientists and to see what exactly the excavation process entails and how ideologically charged the discoveries are.

At the heart of their problematic is the concept of “crypto-colonialism,” a relatively modern term that defines a reality that often escapes us and produces results that affect our lives on many levels.

The discussion becomes an exciting journey through time.

Mr. Hamilakis, Professor of Archaeology and Modern Greek Studies at Brown University, told us about the writing of the book:

“The book emerged after a joint teaching experience at Brown University in the USA, where I have been working since 2016. My good colleague and friend, Rafi Greenberg, a professor at Tel Aviv, who has been engaged for years in the role of archaeology in the ongoing occupation of Palestine through his writings and activism, spent his sabbatical at Brown during the academic year 2019-2020. We decided then to design and co-teach a course that would comparatively examine the cases of Greece and Israel. After the completion of this seminar, amidst a pandemic but also against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, we decided to start a series of recorded conversations. The aim was to discuss what we had gained through the course but also to push each other beyond what we had previously proposed in our books and articles. The subsequent text formed the basis for further research and processing, which ultimately led to the book. Our proposal to readers does not only concern the content of the book. The medium, namely comparative analysis and dialogicity, is also a message. It constitutes an invitation for further comparative studies, thus avoiding the trap of reproducing national rhetoric. It also implies that our dialogue is just the beginning. Therefore, we extend an invitation for further discussion, both in the audiences of the two countries and beyond.”


Kostas Stoforos



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