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The poverty of empiricism and the tyranny of theory

Roskams, Steve and Saunders, Tom (2001) The poverty of empiricism and the tyranny of theory. In: Environmental Archaeology: Meaning and Purpose. Environmental Science and Technology Library (17). Kluwer , Dortrecht/Boston/London . ISBN 978-0-7923-6763-5

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Published Version: http://www.springer.com/


Since its emergence alongside New Archaeology in the 1970s, environmental archaeology has been criticised for focussing on methodology rather than social dynamics, this attack being particularly virulent amongst post-processualist in the 1990s. Here we suggest that the failure of the latter, recent perspectives to have much impact on environmental work is not due to closed minds on either side, but because post-processualism offers little to the detailed investigation and explanation of past social trajectories. Using environmental analyses from York in both Roman and medieval periods, we show how Marxist studies of the production and distribution of food can be linked to the analysis of patterns of consumption and disposal. In this was, it is possible to avoid the disabling polarisation between traditional empiricism and the idealism of post-processual theory.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Marxism/historical materialism, environmental archaeology, post-processualism, urban transitions, urban hinterlands, York
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Mrs Eva Fairnell
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2010 14:48
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2010 14:48
Published Version: http://www.springer.com/
Status: Published
Publisher: Kluwer
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11066

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