Zalewska A. I., Scott J. M., Kiarszys G. (red) 2017. The Materiality of Troubled Pasts. Archaeologies of Conflicts and Wars, Warszawa-Szczecin: Department of Archaeology. Szczecin University.

The Materiality of Troubled Pasts. Archaeologies of Conflicts and Wars

The phenomena of troubled pasts composed of conflicts and wars seem to be an inalienable part of being human. Social relations and social processes of conflict, specifically war, have long drawn the attention of researchers in the social sciences and humanities. For example, the fields of psychology and sociology, have accepted the paradigm that conflict underlies much, if not all, human social interaction. Anthropologists have also regarded conflict as a social phenomenon that triggers and interacts with other social events and processes. Archaeologists began analysing social conflict by focusing on violence and war from a biological evolutionary point of view and took the socio-political approach during the 1940s. Recent archaeological investigations have clearly shown the efficiency and relevance of material culture studies for conflicts and warfare which have occurred in prehistoric, historic, and contemporary cultures. Also, in the contemporary, interdisciplinary archaeologies such as Modern Conflict Archaeology and Combat Archaeology that are identifying and investigating the modern phenomena of massive industrialized warfare and global conflicts in which the horrors of war are exponentially multiplied. What we stress with the presentation of this volume falls within a dynamic anthropological approach which clearly indicates that the current human presence in the world is significantly shaped not only by the actions of past conflicts but also by the current social and material memories of conflicts. These memories anchored in the long history that has shaped us can over time become altered and corrupted. Proving that these horrors occurred and continue to occur can sometimes be difficult. As demonstrated by the papers of this volume, contemporary archaeologies reach beyond the simple recording of the remains of battlefields and zones of conflicts. They attempt to understand conflict with its past and continuing horrors and their social implications, which will help maintain the integrity of our social and material memories. We hope that by documenting the material culture of conflicts and by making others aware of these horrors, we are contributing to a more peaceful future. The papers presented in this volume are multidisciplinary and advance the study of conflicts and wars by providing clear examples of how troubled relations, that have occurred across time, are in many ways still present and are currently as much local as global and as much personal as universal. These papers pose poignant questions and make unique observations on the phenomenon of the materiality of troubled pasts.