The "writing" of classical archaeology in post-war Greece (1950 to the present); the case of museum exhibitions and museum narratives
thesisposted on 2010-03-10, 12:41 authored by Maria Mouliou
This study puts forward an argument for the importance of studying museum constructions of the past in relation to the intellectual histories of archaeological scholarship involved with the investigation of material culture of the past. Informed by post-structuralist theories in the fields of archaeology and museology, this study essentially proposes to investigate why museum representations of the past come to look the way they do through a critical analysis of the discourse of archaeology, that is the disciplinary poetics and socio-politics of archaeology. Furthermore, it argues that museum receptions of the Greek classical past and the discipline of classical archaeology, with its abundance of original material, its vast body of scholarly production let alone its key role in the genesis of European thought and archaeological discipline as such, provides a fertile ground for exploring the above supposition. Thus, classical archaeological discourse and museum representations of the classical past in post-war (1950 to the present) Greece are examined in order to understand the architectonics of their interrelation in their various scholarly, socio-historical, political, ideological and economic dimensions. Essentially, it is sought to unmask how the long standing intellectual tradition of classical archaeology and its operation within a certain historical, cultural and political context informed or even governed museum constructions of the Greek classical past and their varied receptions from audiences in Greece and beyond, both in the past and in the present. Thirty four case-studies are selected and provide ample material to proceed beyond the strictly empirical analysis and experience into further philosophical reflection and theorising. National, Site, Regional, Private and University Museums together with temporary and travelling exhibitions are thoroughly examined to demonstrate how master narratives of classical archaeological discourse have been for so long endorsed and perpetuated by the Greek Museum discourse. The examination of the case studies is most revealing and empowering for making some general observations regarding the poetics and politics of scholarly traditions and the manner in which these traditions lead to specific cultural appropriations and constructions of the past in museum displays. Finally, this study also shows how such a theoretically and historically informed approach to museum constructions of the past, Greek classical and other, can potentially bring new impetus to archaeological exhibitions, their themes and forms of expression.