SinFronteras – Una Arqueología Sin Fronteras

Archaeology without frontiers – the international contacts of twentieth-century Spanish archaeology

The aim of the project is to take in-depth look at the impact that relations with scholars from other countries had on Spanish archaeology in the twentieth century. The idea is to break with the various myths that have become firmly established in the histories of Spanish archaeology. Firstly, that Spanish archaeologists were the passive recipients of new information coming from other countries. Secondly, that during the long period of the Franco regime these experts were almost completely isolated internationally.

Our research aims to confirm with irrefutable data the impressions obtained from our own previous investigations. Although it cannot be denied that Spanish archaeology was to a large extent a victim of what some describe as scientific colonialism, mainly at the hands of the French, German, British and American archaeologists, the reaction of the archaeologists in Spain was not passive; in fact they took advantage of the external financing for their own scientific and academic purposes. Moreover, far from the view of a Spain with closed borders, the data compiled to date appear to indicate that Spanish archaeologists had established personal contacts and scientific exchanges with their colleagues in the rest of Europe, which are practically forgotten today and need to be brought back into the open. These personal relations favoured the holding of major international conferences in Spain, which we will analyse from that perspective in our research.

On the other hand, although we know that Spanish archaeologists travelled abroad in the first three decades of the century thanks to JAE grants, we know little about much of the subsequent period when they continued to travel thanks to a range of possibilities offered by institutions such as the CSIC and universities. Also of importance was their participation in UNESCO’S international campaign to save the monuments of Nubia.

A subject we will study in depth in this project is how the political regime affected the nature of the academic relations between Spain and the surrounding countries.

Our proposed study methodology is based on three main areas:

– The compilation, study and critical analysis of the printed sources in bibliographies found in Spain and other countries.

– Archival research

– Oral history – a method in which our proposal is a pioneer

The proposed research group consists of investigators from Spain and other countries. All the Spanish members of the group have previously collaborated on contributions to the Historical Dictionary of Archaeology in Spain (15th-20th centuries) coordinated by the principal researcher (Díaz-Andreu et al. 2009). All members have also participated in conferences, symposia, colloquia and workshops on the historiography of archaeology in Spain and abroad. The team members are experienced in organising conferences on a national and international level, as well as in exhibition planning. This project guarantees transnationality and interdisciplinarity thanks to the specialities of its members that range from the Palaeolithic and recent prehistory to the Roman and mediaeval periods, and also from archaeology outside our frontiers. Transnationality and interdisciplinarity are also ensured through the cooperation with experts from Spain and abroad (anthropologists and science historians).


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