Masterclass with Oscar Moro Abadía


Institute of Advanced Studies, UWA
Honours Students, Postgraduate Students, Early Career Researchers, Academics, Professional Researchers

*Unfortunately due to ongoing travel restrictions, this masterclass has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule this event for a later date.

The Closure of Epistemology and the ‘Ethical Turn’ in Archaeology

A masterclass with Oscar Moro Abadía, Associate Professor of Archaeology, Memorial University of Newfoundland and 2020 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

During the twentieth century, epistemology played a major role in archaeological theory. At that time, archaeologists took the models of explanation developed by the philosophers of science as reference to convert archaeology into a Science with a capital ‘S’. In particular, they sought to explain the archaeological record with reference to different versions of positivism. This situation began to change in the 1980s and 1990s, when post-processual archaeologists questioned positivism and promoted an alternative relationship between archaeologists and living communities. In this setting, the last twenty years have witnessed the increasing replacement of epistemological issues by new questions mainly related to the role and the responsibilities of archaeologists in the public sphere, including the obligations of archaeologists vis-à-vis Indigenous societies, the greater involvement of archaeologists with contemporary communities, and the call for political activism. Dr Moro Abadía will examine this paradigm shift (from an ‘epistemological’ to an ‘ethical’ model) with reference to recent developments in archaeological theory. He will argue that while these models are often presented as opposed, they are, in fact, complementary. This masterclass will allow a discussion of the above-mentioned developments and issues in global archaeology. It will also provide an opportunity to relate the 'ethical turn' in archaeology to the challenges facing archaeological research and cultural heritage management in Australia today.

Oscar Moro Abadía works as Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the Memorial University, Newfoundland. During the last years he has developed research in a number of interrelated areas, including Pleistocene art, the history of archaeology and the history and philosophy of science. His primary research interest lies in the examination of Pleistocene and indigenous arts. More specifically, an important part of my work focuses and epistemology of prehistoric images. He has published nearly forty articles in this area, including in mainstream journals such as Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Journal of Anthropological Research, Journal of Art Historiography, Journal of Social Archaeology and Journal of Archaeological Research. Together with Associate Professor Martin Porr (UWA), he is currently editing a volume entitled Ontologies of Rock Art: Images, Relational Approaches and Indigenous knowledge (Routledge, Under Contract). Together with Manuel R. González Morales (Universidad de Cantabria, Spain), he is editing a special issue on prehistoric art for the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory that is scheduled for publication in September 2020.

Dr Moro Abadía has been active in the fields of the history of archaeology and history of science. He has published his research in History of Science, History of the Human Science, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Archaeological Dialogues and World Archaeology. In 2013, together with Professor Christopher Huth (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg), he edited a Special Issue on the history of archaeology entitled ‘Speaking materials. Sources for the History of Archaeology’ for the journal Complutum (Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain).

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