Home    Number 1, 2013

Nationalism and Archaeology

Type of publication: Research Article

About author(s)

Viktor Shnirelman | shnirv@mail.ru | Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences (32a Leninsky prospekt, Moscow, 119991, Russia)


archaeology, nationalism, identity, heritage, politics


The author poses a question about the connection between archaeology and the ideology of nationalism. Defining nationalism as ideology and social practice that make nation a subject of politics and give priority to the national interests over all others, he argues that the value of archaeology for nationalism is determined by its ability to provide material evidence of long cultural continuity and real ties with the ancestors. This renders the issue of archaeologists’ responsibility and role in “forming identities” in a rather new way, since we are now dealing with “multiple pasts”. It becomes especially complicated when contested territories or struggle for historical heritage come into play, as in the cases when neighbor groups compete for the ancient heritage, each trying to ascribe local archaeological remnants to their own ancestors.


Shnirelman, V.A. 2013. Nationalism and Archaeology. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 1: 9-25

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