. 5
( 6)


Celebrations of uniqueness and differences: are they really good?
Cultures/ethnic groups which celebrate their uniqueness and difference can be com-
pared to such discourses. Together with the inception of hyper-capitalist social for-
mation, the end of the Cold War has been behind this phenomenon. The Cold
War brought a state of equilibrium to international relations in which the politico-
militaristic tension between the United States and the Soviet Union functioned as
a systemic regulator. Con¬‚icting interests and tension between groups of various
sorts such as nation-states, culture groups, ethnic groups, economic classes, and so
on, were suppressed by the ultimate con¬‚ict between the US and the USSR; under
militaristic domination by these two countries, with the genuine threat of a ther-
monuclear war, there was no room for internal con¬‚icts in individual nation-states to
surface. This politico-militaristic dichotomy between the western versus the eastern
blocks also gave rise to a parallel dichotomy in the epistemic landscape, i.e., liberalism
versus socialism. In these circumstances various causes of discontent were attributed
to either of the two ˜world views™, simpli¬ed, and solved externally, i.e., making peo-
ple think that any social problem and suffering was caused by the bad deeds of
the opposing block and its constituent nations (see Figure 4.5) (cf. Huntington
Concerning the above, the sudden cropping up of the claims by various, predom-
inantly ethnic af¬liation-based groupings, which had been silenced during the Cold
War era, of their suppressed rights and emancipation, and post-processual archae-
ologies™ alliance with these, most often indigenous, voices can be understood to
have resulted from the end of the Cold War. That implies that the validity of the
claims put forward by these formerly silenced groups and their voices cannot be
taken for granted by right but has to be scrutinised just as other dominant grand
narratives of the Cold War era have to undergo critical re-examination. We shall
tackle this issue later in this chapter. However, the above-mentioned problem with
the micro-discourses generated by the alliance between various interest groups and
post-processual archaeologies has to be critically examined here.
These micro-discourses tend to focus solely on their unique contextualities and
the way they have been historically constituted. It might be added that the memory
of suffering tends to make their tone self-righteous and defensive. However, without
a conscious attempt to understand the logic and mechanisms behind the operation
of other cultures and without a deliberate attempt to create a sharable discursive
space between them, cultures/ethnic groups cannot coexist peacefully. And such a
sharable discursive space has to be supported not only by the knowledge of how these
cultures have been formed and why, but also by the knowledge that peoples cannot
attain satisfactory mutual understanding in any straightforward manner: they only
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 133

know they are in a state of being able to believe that they understand one another
through the continuation of dialogue (see Chapter 3.3“3.7).
The ultimate importance of historical and historicised knowledge comes in here;
knowing how the counterpart has come to behave the way s/he behaves enables one
to tolerate any unexpected action from the counterpart that disturbs the continuation
of dialogue. However, a paradoxical characteristic of the post-processual discourse
prevents historical, long-term investigation from being fully conducted: on the one
hand, the discourse emphasises that any human action is historically constituted, but
on the other hand, it claims that any historical experience is unique as occupying an
unrepeatable moment in the ¬‚ow of time. It encourages the thick description (Geertz
1973) of the synchronic networking of contextual factors surrounding the experience
in a speci¬c temporal horizon rather than the diachronic description of the way the
condition of a particular historical experience came about over a certain period of
What I wish to illustrate in this chapter is that the above-illustrated tendencies in
the post-processual discourse, the increasing segregation of various inward-looking
discourses, accelerated indeterminacy in archaeological interpretations, and increas-
ing interest in the body, are not only structurally parallel to the operation of hyper-
capitalism but also interconnected with it in a systemic manner. This suggests that this
tendency, i.e., the tendency epitomised by multiculturalism and the post-processual
archaeologies movement, might be a global phenomenon, meaning the same type
of tendencies can be seen in place outside the sphere of the strong in¬‚uence of the
Anglo-American post-processual movement, because now the hyper-capitalist econ-
omy is the global/globalising economy, although the form of its representation varies
from region to region and from country to country. The Japanese experience will
prove that this is the case.

5.2 Paradox and confusion: the case of Japan
Past for the future
We have already seen the trajectory of modern Japanese archaeology since the Meiji
restoration up to the 1970s in Chapter 4.2 above. That trajectory coincides with the
Japanese experience of classical modernity: it witnessed the hasty introduction and
intensive endeavour to ¬rmly install a package consisting of the essential ingredients
of modernity:

(a) industrialisation,
(b) rationalisation,
(c) commodi¬cation,
(d) bureaucratisation,
(e) citizenship,
(f ) deconstruction of kinship/local ties,
(g) secularisation,
(h) institutional segmentation and specialisation.
Archaeology, Society and Identity 134

Among them, (e) the foundation of citizenship was the most dif¬cult because the
disembedment of people from their kinship/local community-based ties, which took
place as a long and slow-moving process in the west, had to be carried out in
an extremely short period of time in Japan; besides, the disembedment and re-
embedment of people to integrate them as a nation had to be achieved as a uni¬ed
process. As we saw in Chapter 4.2, it was the emperor and the notion of the national
body, in which the emperor was the embodiment of the nation and the father and
the people the organic parts of that body and the children of the emperor, that were
invented to accomplish this extremely dif¬cult task. As a modern scienti¬c discipline
with the unique character revealed in Chapter 2.2, archaeology, from the beginning,
was destined to be mobilised to support this conceptual construct in the form of
tracing the historical roots of the genealogy of the emperor and the boundary forma-
tion and concretisation of the national body (see Chapter 4.2). In that sense, as long
as the notion of the national body survived, this conceptual construct continued to
function as the ultimate axis of the structuration and reproduction of the discursive
space of Japan in general and that of archaeology in particular. Being for or against
the notion determined one™s attitude to the socio-political economic/cultural for-
mation of the society. The coming of the late-/high-/post-modern in Japan, in that
sense, was marked by the fading from the public psyche of the notion of the national
body and by the coming of the conditions which led to that fading. In order to trace
this process, i.e., the process toward the coming of the post-modern in Japan, and
in order to examine how archaeology was transformed through this process, we have
to go back to the end of the Second World War (parts of the following arguments in
this section are from Mizoguchi 2005a).
The post-war years, particularly between 1945 and the 1950s, saw the rise of
various movements criticising the mobilisation of the past for the legitimation of
the abuse of the political system which resulted in the devastation, colonial expan-
sion and aggression of neighbouring countries in the years before and during the
Second World War. However, the critique itself was conducted by drawing upon a
conception identical to that which history and archaeology in the pre-war years drew
upon: presupposing and taking for granted the existence of uninterrupted continuity
between the past and the present (see Chapter 4.3 and 4.4). By drawing upon this
conception the critique of the present was conducted by pointing out that its ills
˜originated™ in the past.
Traditional Marxist frameworks, the introduction of which to archaeology in Japan
took place during the pre-war period (see Chapter 4.2), ¬tted the exercise particularly
well. Marxism as a version of evolutionist thinking presupposes that the historical
trajectory of an attribute of a given social formation can be traced back through time
as if the original form of an organ of a given species can be found in its predecessors
in the process of biological evolution. This means that factors which led Japan to
the devastation of war must have had their evolutionary roots in the past. The study
of the past, in that sense, is also regarded as offering the possibility of verifying
the Marxist critique of the present: the validity of Marxist interpretations proven
through the study of the past can also verify Marxist claims about the present because
present factors must have had their primitive expressions in the past. There, again,
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 135

exist circularity and paradox in this strategy of unifying the critique of the present
and the past: the former is valid because it is proven through the study of the past, and
the latter is right because it is proven through the critique of the present. How, then,
were the circularity and paradox solved, i.e., hidden/de-paradoxised? The paradox,
it seems, was de-paradoxised by claiming that the validity of the claims about the
past and the present would be proven in the future in the form of the realisation of
a socialist social formation in Japan. Through chronically postponing the realisation
of an ideal society, a socialist Japan, the circularity was transformed in the realm of
conception to a cause“effect relationship in which the cause lay in the past and its effect
constituted the present and future, which is yet to come.

Anxiety and the fear of being mature
It was only too natural that a feeling of uncertainty and inexplicable fear began to
spread when the pattern of post-war capitalist economy and Cold War equilibrium
began to show signs of change in the 1970s. The changes, as illustrated below, took
the form of a slow but steady erosion of the political reality of the Marxist pro-
gramme for the better future. In archaeology, the change was gradually leading to
the fragmentation of the discursive space of, and the effective coming of multivocal-
ity in Japanese archaeology (see Chapter 1). Fragmentation, in this case, means the
coexistence of an increasing number of distinct sets of expectations which archaeol-
ogists draw upon to reproduce their discourses. In other words, it is fragmentation
in the aim of archaeological practice: a majority opinion no longer exists about what
archaeology is for (previously it was for the construction of a better future through
the implementation of a Marxist programme), and what we are up to with archaeol-
ogy. A serious consequence of the fragmentation is the generation of a discourse of
˜discourselessness™/™aimlessness™ and the parallel rise of the narrative of the extreme,
i.e., of the oldest and the largest, and that of continuing local identity from the most
distant past. As illustrated below, this fragmentation and related phenomena can be
understood as systemic reactions to a deepening ˜functional differentiation™ in social
formation (Luhmann 1995; and see Chapter 3.6 above).
The initial phase of the fragmentation, on the surface, took the form of the demise
of the Marxist programme itself. This was a typical example of the cessation of the
reproduction of a discourse caused by the transformation of its environment. As illus-
trated in Chapter 3, a communication system/discourse is reproduced through the
reproduction of its boundary, by which the constitutive elements of the discourse are
differentiated from those that are not. The differentiation goes on in a self-re¬‚exive
manner. By ˜self-re¬‚exive manner™ I mean that the differentiation is conducted by
drawing upon the memory of previous differentiations. The memory constitutes a
set of expectations, the expectations of what reaction an act executed in a certain
way would evoke in a certain person, and they would change as the occasion of their
being unful¬lled/betrayed increased. The change of the set of expectations by which
a discourse is structured and reproduced, in that sense, takes the form of a struc-
tural change in the experience of those who take part in the discourse of the domains
outside the discourse itself, i.e., the environment of the discourse; each individual™s
attitude to the way the discourse operates is changed through his/her experience of
Archaeology, Society and Identity 136

change in the environment of the discourse, and that would result in the increase of
the occasion of one™s expectation being unful¬lled/betrayed in the discourse itself.
Bearing the foregoing in mind, let us examine the change which took place in the
environment of Marxist discourse. As a persuasive political programme, Marxist-led
socialism had lost its appeal in Japan by the mid/late 1970s, and this was well re¬‚ected
by the decline of labour and union movements. The transformation of the condition
and structure of workplaces, from collective to more segregated conditions in the
factories for instance, gradually destroyed the locales in which workers had main-
tained their day-to-day contact and shared experiences, which generated a coher-
ent and collective ˜working-class spirit™ and working-class ˜habitus™. The decline of
Japanese coal mining, ship building, steel industries and so on, symbolically coin-
cided with this process (Tomoeda 1991). Concurrently, the annual income level
of ordinary citizens rose sharply, and the feeling of ˜belonging to the middle class™
became widespread. This feeling was partly, but strongly, supported by the fact
that workers became able to buy such commodities as colour TV sets, refrigerators,
washing machines and so forth (e.g. Tomoeda 1991). Factory workers could not
buy them easily in the early 1960s, but by the end of the 1970s they were owned by
more than ninety percent of households and were purchased not for their functional
necessity/cost performance but for their stylistic differences (Tomoeda 1991, 142).
A crucial incentive for labour and union movements, a desire to make the condi-
tions of workplaces and daily living better by making changes in employer“employee
relations, was replaced with claims for and an interest in pay rises, as was the case
in other industrialised countries (Bauman 1988: 71“88). The self identity of factory
workers, which had been acquired by sharing homogeneous workplace conditions,
such as coal-mining pits, and ¬ghting for a cause, such as liberating themselves
from relentless capitalist exploitation, was now acquired by purchasing commodi-
ties with certain ˜style™ and ˜taste™ (Bauman 1988). The detachment of the masses
from sharable experiences/face-to-face encounters situated in particular time“space
settings, and the disappearance of physical/experiential constraints upon the living
condition of the masses, came hand-in-hand. Zygmunt Bauman describes it as the
transformation from ˜heavy™ to ˜light™ capitalism (Bauman 2000b).
In such social circumstances and the mental/material conditions constituted in
them, from a pragmatic political point of view, it would have seemed pointless and
meaningless to carry on talking about issues such as the emergence of class-based
inequality and social contradictions in the past in order to make changes in the
present. The enthusiasm behind the investigation of these issues, as illustrated in
the previous section, had been supported by the feeling that these things had causal
connections with the ills of the present. The feeling which can be described as that
of causal-connectedness to the past was gone just as the collective feeling of common
injustice and the collective yearning for a common goal, i.e., the realisation of socialist
democracy, were gone. A foundation of the reality of Marxist discourse resided in
the belief that archaeological practice could have a pragmatic impact upon Japanese
politics: by revealing from a Marxist point of view how Japanese prehistoric societies
evolved, it was believed that the archaeologist could both verify the party policy of
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 137

the communists and enrich the party™s programme for the future (cf. Hara 1972,
389“395). This foundation of a sense of reality in archaeological practice was lost
as well.
What has to be emphasised here is that these changes stemmed from increasing
complexity in the capitalist social formation in which the increasing segmentation
and differentiation of new domains of social interaction and expertise became the
norm of social reproduction and the time“space organisation of social life, and the
constitution of self identity underwent a drastic transformation as a systemic reaction
to it. The articulation and institutionalisation of cultural resource management,
becoming a principal domain of Japanese archaeological practice, can be understood
as a re¬‚exion of such a process.
Due to the drastic increase in large-scale development, cultural resource manage-
ment units, usually attached to local education boards, began to be organised, and
archaeology became a stable ˜job™/a domain of expert knowledge. This resulted in the
rise of professionalism, in which ˜pragmatic™ concerns, i.e., how to retrieve as much
information as possible in rescue contexts rather than how to consider and describe
the character and the importance of a site from a wider, theoretically informed per-
spective, were given priority. Gone were the days when such ˜communal excavations™
as the excavation of the Tsukinowa tumulus in Okayama Prefecture were not only
possible but also enthusiastically welcomed as a form of realistic endeavour to trans-
form society for the better. The excavation initiated by and involving the residents
of the small mining town of Yanahara in the Chugoku mountain range yielded a
concrete political outcome in the form of the strong showing of the candidates of
left-wing/reform-oriented parties in the local elections (Tsukinowa kofun kanko kai
1960). Now, a rescue excavation was quietly processed as a public service provided
by a local government, in which neutrality, political or otherwise, was an absolute
requirement in order to serve the community.
Each rescue context requires strong personal commitment, which is often chal-
lenging physically as well as mentally. At the same time, it creates a sense of deep
personal attachment to the site and the unique local circumstances in which the
site is being rescue-excavated, and makes the narrative created out of the excava-
tion inevitably ˜local™, ˜personal™, and ˜different™. The of¬cers who conduct a rescue
excavation have to identify and dig features and artefacts belonging to various peri-
ods over the (often very long) duration of the site, have to maintain good human
relations among diggers, and have to complete the excavation on time: they have
to be ruthless managers as well as being extremely knowledgeable archaeologists.
Many of them have a hard time oscillating between these two ˜social persona™, the
ruthless manager and the knowledgeable archaeologist, and they inevitably resort to
the sincerest solution: to excavate the site which they are digging in the best possible
way and nothing more than that.
This means that one just concentrates on everyday details and stops thinking about
wider and abstract issues, such as the political, which the outcomes of the excavation
may be able to address, and the Tsukinowa excavation well exempli¬es. This has
led to the erosion of the mentality of doing archaeology for the future, for the good
Archaeology, Society and Identity 138

of future society. That ˜future-oriented™ inclination used to unify the intentions of
the individuals who worked in the domain yet to be professionalised, and which was
hence unorganised and fragmentary. Professionalisation, ironically, has replaced the
future-oriented mentality with the present/everyday-oriented one, and led to the
fragmentation of archaeology as a ¬eld of practice/praxis (see Figure 5.2).
It is also important to note that the Marxist programme placed too much empha-
sis upon the reconstruction of the totality of society, and did not enable the rescue
archaeologist to give meaning to the minute detail of the features he or she recorded
in terms of how the detail was meaningful in the study of past society. For instance,
as mentioned above (see Chapter 4.4), an important objective of Japanese Marxist
prehistoric archaeology was to trace the developmental stages through which egal-
itarian agrarian communities evolved to an early state. In examining the process,
settlement sites and cemeteries were classi¬ed into settlement/cemetery types, which
were assumed to re¬‚ect the way the communities were organised in each developmen-
tal stage in a straightforward fashion. What was most important in this framework
of examination was the taxonomy of sites (e.g. Takakura 1973; also see Chapter 4.4
above), not necessarily the detail of the con¬guration and the contents of the features
which constituted individual settlement/cemetery sites and which were recorded with
the utmost care and sincerity. This intrinsic characteristic of the Marxist programme,
i.e., its totalising tendency, made the programme not only unattractive but also irrel-
evant to the everyday concerns of the rescue archaeologist.

Fragmentation and the re-emergence of the transcendental
The increasing complexity and fragmentation in capitalist social formation took the
foregoing form in archaeology, and resulted in the fragmentation of the identity of
the archaeologist: the segmentation and differentiation of each excavation site as a
¬eld of life“world experience made the spatio-temporal extension of the domain for
self identi¬cation, within which existed a set of expectations, which is drawn upon
in the reproduction of a discourse/identity, very small.
It is natural for the fragmented self to seek transcendental entities with which to
regain a sense of unity/oneness (see Chapter 3.8), and the in¬‚ation of the narratives
of the extremes such as the oldest and largest in archaeological discourse since the
1980s can be understood as such a move. By referring to something (felt to be)
transcendental, to which one can assume that everyone belonging to a social cate-
gory/group feels attached, one assures oneself that one can communicate with and
understand the other in that group (Chapter 3.8). The articulation of such a group is
in¬‚uenced by various socio-economic/political/cultural factors, and the relationship
between the creators and the receivers of the narrative of the transcendental being
is one of interdependence.
Let me take the discursive formation surrounding the Jomon settlement site of
Sannai-Maruyama, Aomori prefecture, as an example of the generation of such a
transcendental archaeological entity. In order to fully understand the implication of
the generation of the ˜Sannai-Maruyama discourse™, we have to begin by investigating
the positionality of the Jomon discourse, the ˜prehistory™ of Japan in the discursive
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 139

space of pre-Second World War archaeology (see Chapter 4.2, esp. Table 4.1), in
relation to that of the Yayoi discourse, the initial phase of the ˜history™ of the Japanese
and the ˜national body™.
The Jomon period began around 12,000 bp and ended around 500/400 BC (Taka-
hashi, Toizumi, and Kojo 1998). Despite its enormous length in time (reputed to
be the longest single archaeological age in world prehistory), the Jomon period has
since before the Second World War been predominantly conceived by its culture,
not its society or history (see Chapter 4.2). The concept of culture, in this case,
is interchangeable with ˜lifeways.™ How the Jomon hunter-gatherers acquired their
foodstuffs, attired themselves, buried their dead, and prayed for good fortune to nat-
ural spirits and ancestors by using material items mysterious to our eyes have been
the subjects of detailed, and importantly synchronic, ˜reconstruction™ (e.g., Izumi
1996). Despite its furiously detailed pottery-based typochronology, the period has
never quite been historicised, except for a few attempts at describing the transforma-
tion and the causality behind it of the Jomon society (e.g., Imamura 1996; Habu
2004). Rather, the Jomon period tends to be treated in a tacit way as the ˜timeless
past,™ either before the dawn of history of the ˜Japanese™ and ˜Japaneseness™ or where
the authentic essence of Japaneseness was born, and there lies a complex of historical
factors behind it (parts of the following argument of this section are from Mizoguchi
2002, Chapter 2).
The image of the timeless, static Jomon derives from two factors. First, the pace
of social change and transformation in the Jomon period was much slower and more
gradual than that in the Yayoi and Kofun periods as far as stylistic change in the
material culture in general is concerned. Second, the positionality of Jomon archae-
ology in the general discursive space of Japanese archaeology, which has been formed
through the history of the modernity of Japan, as brie¬‚y illustrated in Chapter 4.2,
makes it seem so in contrast to the historical Yayoi and Kofun. Let us begin by
examining the former.
The formal contents and structure of the basic assemblage remained almost
unchanged from the later part of the Initial (Earliest) Jomon to the Latest Jomon
period, although of course there were numerous stylistic changes over such an
exceedingly long period of time (e.g. Suzuki 1984). However, we have to ask
ourselves: what do we mean by saying that the tempo of change in the Jomon mate-
rial culture was ˜slow™ in the ¬rst place? One can assess something as slow only by
comparing its rate of change with that of others, and a case for the slow Jomon can
be made only by comparing the Jomon with the ˜rapid™ Yayoi and Kofun. In fact,
a drastic acceleration in the pace of social change since the adoption of wet rice
agriculture up to the emergence of the Japanese early state is often emphasised in
contrast to the length of time that elapsed between the introduction of farming and
the formation of the state-society elsewhere in the world (e.g., Sahara 1987, 328“
330). The comparison might appear objective and valid because it adopts a universal
measurement, i.e., the length of time that elapsed between two events which took
place almost globally. However, in purely logical terms, there is no universal reason
to use this length of time as the yardstick for recognising the slowness or quickness
Archaeology, Society and Identity 140

of change in any time period; without prioritising the two events de¬ning the length
of time, i.e., the introduction/beginning of agriculture and the foundation of an
ancient state, the measurement cannot claim its universality, because such events as
the emergence of tribal social organisation are no less signi¬cant in the history of the
human being. It can be deduced, in this case, that what is tacitly implied, or taken
for granted unconsciously, is that history after the invention/introduction/adoption
of agriculture is true history (see Chapter 4.2, esp. Table 4.1); the history which
we can make sense of/we feel relevant, can be prioritised, even if Sahara himself
did not mean this. In that mental landscape, such equally signi¬cant events in the
history of human beings as the emergence of tribal social organisation have no uni-
versal relevance. In that sense, the comparison between the slow Jomon and the rapid
Yayoi and Kofun (Sahara 1987) is made possible by recognising the pace of change
in the process from the invention/introduction/adoption of agriculture through the
emergence of ˜civilisations™/ancient states as a universal standard which legitimises
the attitude of treating the Jomon as timeless or historyless in comparison with the
rapidly changing, hence historical, Yayoi and Kofun.
It has been shown that the Jomon sequence was in fact punctuated by ˜histor-
ical™ episodes suggesting signi¬cant changes in the way society was organised and
structured: the beginning of a sedentary way of life, re¬‚ected by the emergence of sta-
ble, substantial settlements with a distinctive circular layout with traces of long-term
occupation (later Initial Jomon); and the emergence of social integration of a certain
scale and complexity, re¬‚ected by the formation of regional ritual centres located
at roughly equal intervals through wide areas of the archipelago (late Early/Middle/
Late Jomon), among others, vividly illustrate the dynamism of Jomon history (see
Anzai 2002 for a new attempt at writing Jomon histories). However, investigations
into these episodes have so far tended to stop short of situating them in their unique
historical contexts or in a long-term transformational perspective. Instead, ranges
of characteristics and traits are extracted from each of these historical phenom-
ena, given niches in a synchronic system of meanings, and treated as the essence of
Jomonness, and hence, in some cases, as the essence of Japaneseness. For instance,
Michio Okamura characterises Jomon ˜culture™ by the traits which he regards as
signi¬cant in comparison to the ˜traditional Japanese way of life™ (Okamura 1996,
77“80). Jomon culture is in this case tacitly recognised as the root of the traditional
Japanese way of life and characterised as a timeless entity. The cover slip of Okamura™s
recent book also bears the phrase: ˜the roots of our life reside here™ (Okamura 2000).
˜Our life™ is the traditional Japanese way of life, and ˜here™ is (the synchronic discur-
sive space of) the Jomon. This synchronisation of traits, originally embedded in a
diachronic process and in constant transformation, constitutes one of the signi¬cant
principles on which the reproduction of the discursive space of Jomon archaeology
draws. It has to be noted that this synchronisation tendency is more obvious in the
literature itself, whose main readership is intended to be the general public. And,
interestingly, the scholars who should be fully aware of the necessity of overcoming
this tendency, and express that in their academic writing, often adopt a different
approach and write a synchronic history compartmentalising things into different
categories of lifeways and describing each of their contents in an often evocative
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 141

narrative style (e.g. Kosugi 2003). This suggests that there undeniably exists a com-
munication system in which to communicate about the Jomon as the dehistoricised
entity is the norm for its continuation, and that this particular communication sys-
tem is perceived to be for the general public and, hence, the major communication
system about the Jomon.
This habituated ignorance of history, in other words the dehistoricisation of the
Jomon period, also derives from the perception which originated in the pre-Second
World War period that a new population, which was to become the ancestors of
the imperial family and the Japanese people, came from outside the archipelago and
either replaced or assimilated the aboriginal population (cf. Oguma 1995, Chapter 5;
Teshigawara 1995, 47; also see Chapter 4.2). The population, inferring from the
mythological description of the imperial chronicles ˜Kojiki™ and ˜Nihon-shoki™ (cf.
Aston 1972), brought with them agriculture and other developed technologies,
including metallurgy. Therefore, the ˜stone age™ people who left behind Jomon cul-
tural remains were recognised as the aboriginal population of the land, and the
study of Jomon ˜culture™5 was naturally the study of both the prehistory (in the sense
the period being before the foundation of the imperial genealogy) of the land and
that of the aboriginal population. This implied that the Jomon culture/period was
excluded from the subject of historical research, i.e., the reconstruction and study
of the sequence of events/the stages of development. Besides, the Jomon culture, in
that paradigm, was the culture of the Other as that of the subsequent periods was the
Same as the traditional, i.e., rice agriculture-based, Japanese culture. This perception
further enhanced the tendency for the Jomon culture/period to be excluded from the
subject of historical investigation, the investigation of the imperial genealogy and the
Japanese people (see Chapter 4.2, esp. Table 4.1).
These factors can be arranged into sets of dichotomies which draw the boundary
separating the discursive space of Jomon archaeology from that of the subsequent
Yayoi period, thus: static/timeless Jomon and dynamic/historical Yayoi, the Jomon as
the prehistory of the Japanese and the Yayoi as the history of the Japanese, the Jomon
as the Other and the Yayoi as the Same and familiar, and the Jomon as Nature and the
Yayoi as Culture. The Yayoi period, as the period which witnessed the introduction
and establishment of the rice agriculture-based lifestyle, has long been regarded as
the period when the basic elements of the Japanese way of life and the essence of
the Japanese mentality were formed (e.g., Watsuji 1951, 47“56; Takakura 1995, 13“
15). This perception, in addition to the factors mentioned above, has enabled the
Jomon period to be treated as the ˜pre™-history of the Japanese, and hence as a pool
of non-historic, i.e., cyclical/repetitive, hence natural, matters such as domestic and
shamanistic activities.
The ways in which the symbolic items of Jomon material culture are described are
predominantly to do with their domestic and shamanistic character, and their con-
nection with sex, nature, and so on; in contrast to their Yayoi counterparts, whose
functions are always connected with something ˜political™, ˜economic™, and ˜social.™
5 Before the establishment of the nation-wide pottery chronological system in the 1930s (cf. Teshigawara
1995, 134“143) the Jomon ˜culture™ was believed to have continued at least as late as the end of the
Kofun period/culture on the fringe of the latter™s ˜expansion™ (see Figure 4.2) (Teshigawara 1995, 139).
Archaeology, Society and Identity 142

The clay ¬gurines, whose mysterious appearance makes them a type of artefact
regarded typically as constituting Jomonness, are understood to have been mobilised
in rituals for the fertility and regeneration of subsistence resources by metaphorically
referring to the childbearing ability of the female (Isomae 1987). However, in a
number of cases vast quantities of ¬gurines were amassed, deliberately smashed
and deposited in ceremonial gatherings (e.g., Yamagata 1992). A phenomenon
such as this would lead to the articulation of various interpretations and narratives,
which would certainly include thus: rituals regularly conducted by mobilising clay
¬gurines at what appear to have been regional ceremonial centres had socio-political
as well as shamanistic/religious purposes: the mobilisation of clay ¬gurines would
have enhanced, structured, and reproduced intra- and inter-communal ties some-
what unintentionally through the mediation of ritual communication among those
who gathered from a wider domain than that of daily encounter.
Yayoi ritual items, such as bronze bells, which from our modern conception are as
mysterious in their appearance and usage as Jomon clay ¬gurines, are in the majority
of cases interpreted as having functioned as ˜political items™; they are understood to
have been strategically mobilised, that is displayed at politico-ceremonial occasions,
for instance (e.g., Fukunaga 1998, 236“239), and deposited for the maintenance and
enhancement of hierarchy, power and intra- and inter-communal ties (Kobayashi
1961, 208“235).
It should also be noted that the clay ¬gurines are often analyzed as generally
depicting female ¬gures (e.g., Isomae 1987; Imafuku 1999, 90), despite the fact
that many of them cannot be sexed (Kobayashi 1990, 15“16). What is contrasted to
the strategic nature of the Yayoi knowledge here is the Jomon ritual knowledge which
is literally ˜embodied™ by the sexed body of the ¬gurines. Together with the fact that
a tangible category of Yayoi symbolic items are weapon-shaped, and hence easily
connected to male activities, further sets of dichotomies like those below might be
formed: Jomon : Yayoi :: female : male :: ¬gurines : bronze (weapon-shaped) ritual
items :: domestic/shamanistic : political :: embodied knowledge : strategic knowledge.
Various symbols of the sexes existed in the Jomon period, many of which depicted
the male sexual organ (so-called ˜stone clubs/rods™, sekibo in Japanese, for instance.
See Yamamoto 1995). Some of them depicted male and female sexual organs in one
artefact. By referring to these facts, some might say that it goes too far to say that
the dichotomies between Jomon and Yayoi and between female and male consti-
tute the boundary of Jomon discursive space. However, it appears undeniable that
much more attention has been placed upon Jomon clay ¬gurines in the representa-
tion of the Jomon in various media than on other Jomon symbolic items depicting
sexual organs or sexable characteristics and that this attention has, to a considerable
extent, been stimulated by the sex/gender of the ¬gurines. Even if the contribution
of the dichotomies between Jomon and Yayoi and between female and male to the
boundary formation of Jomon discursive space were rejected, it would be accepted
that the dichotomies between Jomon and Yayoi and between embodied and strate-
gic knowledge/experience signi¬cantly constitute the boundary of Jomon discursive
space. In that sense, it might be more appropriate that the boundary is drawn along
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 143

the dichotomy between the Jomon as the sexually embodied and the Yayoi as char-
acterised by male socio-political decision making. If it were the case, it can easily
be transformed to the dichotomy between the Jomon as Nature and the Yayoi as
If we shift our focus to spatiality, Jomon and Yayoi discursive spaces form dis-
tinct ˜stations™ in the daily life of contemporary Japanese people. These stations
are not only bounded by material media/residues of the practice of people in those
periods and the images attached to them, but also by actual spatial differences in con-
temporary society. While the majority of major Jomon sites with either monumental
structures or reconstructed features, including the Sannai-Maruyama, are located in
eastern Japan, most of the major Yayoi sites, such as the Yoshinogari (see Chapter 1),
are located in western Japan. This, to some extent, is related to real differences in
the socio-historical processes which structured the society of those periods, but the
fact in contemporary Japan that visible/visualised (by site reconstruction) traces of
the life of the Jomon and Yayoi periods mark such a clear division between eastern
and western Japan constitutes a ¬rm base for the reality of the boundary between
those stations. This reality constitutes an epistemological base for the signi¬cance
which these stations have in the self identi¬cation of contemporary Japanese people.
These interconnected discursive layers of the Jomon“Yayoi division are, partic-
ularly importantly for the current discussion, embedded in the east“west division
constituted by the uneven distribution of wealth and social capital of modern Japan.
The east, Tohoku (north-east) region in particular, has suffered from a lack of invest-
ment in commerce as well as production industries and from the long-term decline
in rice agriculture which is, quite ironically (considering that rice agriculture is the
de¬nitive trait of the Yayoi socio-cultural complex), the main source of wealth in
the region. In addition to that, the nature of the Tohoku region has been endan-
gered by the Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) reprocessing plant situated by the state
in Rokkasho Village, to begin operation in 2006, where ¬ve tons of ¬ssile pluto-
nium will be produced annually for the running of MOX (uranium and plutonium
mixed-oxide fuel)-fuelled nuclear power stations to be constructed throughout Japan
(www.japannuclear.com/nuclearpower/moxprogram). It is because of the mixture of
the economic desperation of the region and the state strategy of initiating a project
inevitably subject to a public outcry and opposition in a remote place in the men-
tal map of the majority of the Japanese, from which, again, Tohoku suffers, as the
embodiment of the Nature side of Japan and its history in the perception of the
Japanese. The chain of signi¬ers, Tohoku, Nature, the Jomon, suffering from polit-
ical decisions made by male politicians, is formed and reinforced.
As the economic success of post-Second World War Japan has come to a halt, it
is only natural that the somewhat systemic interdependence between these discur-
sive spaces should be changing. This is in¬‚uenced by the profound changes occur-
ring to the value attached to the experience of these discursive spaces as well as
to the discursive spaces themselves (cf. Akasaka 1996). In the above-mentioned
mutually interconnected existence of the Jomon and Yayoi discursive spaces, which
are situated in and constitute the contemporary Japanese topography of identities,
Archaeology, Society and Identity 144

Jomon-related items/characters, regardless of material or imagery, have been neg-
atively valued, while positive meanings have been attached to their Yayoi counter-
parts. It is widely accepted that the Japanese have toiled to achieve success in the
post-Second World War topography of international relations and the distribution of
wealth by acquiring technologies and ideas from abroad, re¬ning them, and export-
ing them back. Economic success, which the majority of the Japanese regard as
characterising post-Second World War Japan as a nation-state, is widely believed to
have been achieved by the intrinsic diligence and hard-working nature of the Japanese
people long nurtured through their involvement in labour-intensive rice paddy-¬eld
agriculture and by, again diligently, copying and re¬ning ideas of foreign origin (cf.
Sahara 1987, 328“330, esp. 329). A parallel between this and the characterisation of
the Yayoi period, constituted through the reproduction of the Yayoi discursive space,
is obvious: the Yayoi discursive space has been the space in which the economic suc-
cess of post-Second World War Japan is assigned a cause and in which both good and
bad consequences of the success are made sense of, all in all, in a positive manner.
Currently, though, the picture is changing. The kind of Jomon image currently
gaining popularity is, in a way, the reverse image of post-Second World War Japan.
Many traits such as those mentioned above, long regarded as constituting the back-
bone of the success of post-Second World War Japan, have become subject to serious
doubt under the prolonged economic dif¬culties, and many of these traits have often
been connected to the characteristics of Yayoi culture. The appeal of Jomonness, sig-
ni¬ed by those on the opposite side of their Yayoi counterparts in the above-illustrated
dichotomies, is currently on the increase. Jomon : Yayoi :: Eastern Japan : Western
Japan :: something we have forgotten/neglected : something driving us/having driven
us mad :: nostalgia : despair.
An interesting element of the rise of interest in the Jomon period and Jomonness
is that this phenomenon is related to a change in the attitude of the general public
to the body and the mind. When Jomonness is depicted in such media as exhibition
brochures and popular books (e.g., OCJW 1996), it is the embodied nature of Jomon
knowledge and technology which is repeatedly emphasised. The embodied nature of
Jomon knowledge and the foreign, hence discursive (because it has to be translated),
hence modern (because modernity was brought into Japan from abroad in the wake
of the Meiji restoration in 1868) nature of Yayoi knowledge are rarely subject to
explicit contrast, but the embeddedness of Jomon subsistence activities in the body of
nature, often tacitly connected to the image of Jomon clay ¬gurines like the Japanese
˜mother goddess™ (see, e.g., Isomae 1987), is often contrasted with the destructive
intervention in the body of nature by Yayoi agriculturists.
Like the fact that colonial encounters were often depicted as an encounter between
a fully attired male ¬gure and a naked female ¬gure (see, e.g., Gregory 1994, 124“
133), Jomonness, it seems to me, has begun to be connected to the female body,
into which Yayoiness, which has traditionally been connected to male images, has
penetrated. Interestingly, one of the prominent theories on the process of the advent
of the Yayoi agrarian society argues, to put it simply, is that a group of male individuals
brought a wet rice agriculture-related socio-technological complex from the Korean
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 145

peninsula and married Jomon women. The theory argues that this is why many
traits of Jomon pottery survived and were passed on to the pottery assemblage of the
Initial/Early Yayoi (because pottery making is a female labour; see Komoto 1982 for
an example). This, as it stands, means that a new layer of gender-related dichotomous
contrasts (this itself is a unique occurrence in the discursive space of traditional
modern Japan, in which masculinity plays such an important role) has been added
to the archaeology-related discursive space of modern Japan; Jomon : Yayoi :: Eastern
Japan : Western Japan :: (female) body : (male) mind :: (mother : father) (?) :: idyllic :
evil :: nostalgia : despair :: remedy for modernity : ills of modernity.
It is quite striking that this series of dichotomies articulated in the high-, late- or
post-modernity of Japan forms an almost complete parallel to what we have seen hap-
pening in contemporary western archaeology in the form of somatised archaeology:
the (unconscious) attempt to impose a closure to the uncontrollable expansion of the
chain of signi¬ers relies upon the ¬xity and controllability of the body, and the move
has been stimulated by feminist scholarship focusing on the way the body and its per-
ception are mutually constituted and their connection transformed (see Chapter 5.1;
and Meskell and Joyce 2003). The increasing emphasis on the left-hand side of the
dichotomies above, I would argue, is what constitutes the epistemic background
against which the Sannai-Maruyama discourse has emerged; the discourse is ¬rmly
embedded in the condition comparable to that in which contemporary western
archaeology is situated.
The Sannai-Maruyama is widely regarded as the core settlement of a regional unit
(OCJW 1996; Habu 2004, 108“134). The structure and functions of the regional
core settlements of the Later Jomon phase (cf. Mizoguchi 2002, 102“105) have been
revealed increasingly of late, and the circular concentric layout of a mortuary area, a
residential area with a number of pit dwellings, and a storage area with storage pits,
situated from the centre to the outside respectively, has been recognised in a number
of core-settlement sites (Mizoguchi 2002; Habu 2004, Chapters 4 and 5). In the core
settlements, the members of a number of larger, non-residential corporate groups
(such as clans) are inferred to have got together regularly, and would have exchanged
goods and people and recon¬rmed their ties through the mediation of ancestral and
natural spirits (Mizoguchi 2002, 102“105). The function of the core settlements as
the node of social interactions and relations at multiple levels, it is inferred, made
them longer-lived and more stable than the ordinary, ˜satellite™, settlements (which
might have been visited and occupied during a particular season or seasons of the
year) and material remains and traces of these activities, including the long-distance
chaining of exchanges, wider-ranging and conspicuous (Mizoguchi 2002).
The Sannai-Maruyama, whose occupational history spans from the Early to
Middle Jomon periods, ful¬lled all such criteria of the core settlements of the Later
Jomon phase as above. In that sense, the site is important as an exemplary exam-
ple of the core settlements. What makes the site distinct, though, is the fact that no
other core settlement of the Later Jomon phase has been subject to such a large-scale
excavation at one go as the Sannai-Maruyama (OCJW 1996; Habu 2004, 108“134,
esp. Figure 4.17). The construction of a baseball stadium uncovered the heart of the
Archaeology, Society and Identity 146

site, and the quality as well as the quantity of the artefacts and features exposed by a
series of rescue excavations surprised experts and the general public alike. However,
the magnitude of the hype surrounding the discovery and the subsequent generation
of a discourse, which deserves to be called the Sannai-Maruyama discourse, de¬ed
convention. The discoveries of items from sources of distant origin were connected
to such inferences as the existence of Jomon ˜merchants™ and Jomon ˜trade™. The
tentative calculation of population size, made by referring to a range of indicators,
such as the number of pit dwellings coexisting at one phase, highest estimates being
around 500, led to the famous description, ˜the Jomon town™ (OCJW 1996). In all,
almost every inference made within the discursive ¬eld had a tendency to be exagger-
ated in the direction of recognising the site as a trait of an advanced developmental
stage in the evolutionary sense. Yoshinori Yasuda even went as far as describing the
stage as a ˜civilisation™ (Umehara and Yasuda 1995).
That the palimpsest of the artefacts and features of a number of site formation
phases of a core settlement was exposed to the public gaze at once was, as was the case
at the Yoshinogari, illustrated in Chapter 1, an important factor contributing to the
generation of the discourse and the hype. However, such phenomena as persistently
emphasising that a certain trait of the site was what had previously been recognised
to have been achieved thanks to the introduction of agriculture makes it highly likely
that, without this change in the con¬guration/positionality of the Jomon and Yayoi
discoursive spaces, the generation of hype and discourse might never have happened,
or would have taken place to a much lesser extent: the boundary of the discursive
space was marked by such keywords/concepts as ˜embodied knowledge™ and ˜the
roots of our/the Japanese culture™, and almost all of them, as can clearly be seen, can
be articulated to the domains of Jomon discourse, whose positional value has risen
as that of their Yayoi counterparts has sunk.
This coupling between the changing positionality of the Jomon discursive space
and the Sannai-Maruyama discourse is, as suggested above, further connected to the
mentality of seeking the transcendental. By characterising the site as a Jomon urban
site, a representative trait of so-called Jomon civilisation (cf. Umehara and Yasuda
1995), for instance, and by ignoring the outcome of previous research into the organi-
sational characteristics of the Later Jomon phase and effectively decontextualising the
site itself (see Habu 2004, 108“134), the meaning content of the Sannai-Maruyama
discourse was effectively undermined and instead the quanti¬able elements of the
discourse, such as the largest and the oldest of such and such, were exaggerated to
various degrees, circulated, and enthusiastically promoted (cf. Habu 2004).
What is worthy of note is that, here again, the discrepancy between the scholarly
communication and that for the general public has been exposed. For instance, a
reconstructive drawing by Shuzo Koyama, formerly the professor at the National
Ethnological Museum, of the central area of the site depicted the two midden areas
as if they were carefully shaped like altars despite the fact that they were formed
through the cumulative deposition of discards consisting mainly of potsherds but
including symbolic items such as clay anthropomorphic ¬gurines over a long period
of time (Habu 2004, 118“120). It is highly unlikely that Koyama himself genuinely
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 147

believes that those middens were actually shaped like altars equipped with steps and
other facilities for ritualistic activities. It can be inferred that they were depicted that
way in order to illustrate in a supposedly accessible manner to the general public an
inferred function of the middens as facilities for or focal points of religious activities of
some sort. The inference is based upon the fact that not only an enormous number
of potsherds continued to be discarded in the same spots in the site but also the
symbolic items mentioned above were deposited in the middens. In that sense, the
inference itself can at least be veri¬ed/falsi¬ed with concrete evidence. What is quite
disputable here is to visually explain the function of those features by depicting them
in an easily understandable but clearly false manner. That a respected academic
¬gure dared to do it suggests that the mentality and norm existed which prioritised
approachability over accuracy in presenting the outcomes of scienti¬c investigations.
And approachability would be recognised as the key to get the interest of the general
public in the site going and growing.
In other words, the continuation of the discourse for the general public is subtly but
consciously perceived by archaeologists to depend upon how well its structuring prin-
ciple, by which meanings given to ¬nds are determined, conforms to public desire for
the past to take the form of the popular image of the Jomon illustrated above. We have
to admit that this is inevitable because the general public, particularly the residents
of not only the local area but also the entire Tohoku region, constitute an important
stakeholder group. Thanks to their enthusiasm, driven by their feeling that the site
and its past provide them with something with which they reidentify themselves and
regain their pride which has been suffering not only from socio-economic degrada-
tion but also from the position they and their past have been given in the mental
topography of the Japanese past illustrated above, the preservation and the recon-
struction of the site have become possible. However, the way the site has actually
been presented and promoted, i.e., by either packaging its image in an approachable
but false manner or emphasising its greatness in quanti¬able attributes, may well
betray the way people want to connect themselves to the signi¬cance of the site.
The mentality of packaging the image of the site in an approachable manner is
identical to that of those who attempt to engineer society by enlightening the unen-
lightened through education (see Chapter 4.3). The belief that society can be engi-
neered through education is based upon the perception that the way the unenlight-
ened think and act can be moulded through a speci¬c manner of communication. I
have argued in Chapter 4.3 that it is the sense of sameness that tends to be mobilised
when the past is called upon in order to engineer the way people make sense of soci-
ety and act upon it. In the case of the Sannai-Maruyama, depicting the middens to
be like altars, or as Habu suggests, like the Mississippian mounds in Cahokia (Habu
2004, 119), can be inferred as an attempt to evoke a sense of familiarity whereby
to engineer the way the general public makes sense of the site and the site-related
narrative. This ˜narrowing-down™ of the range of possible images about the past,
even if conducted with good intentions, not only impoverishes the imagination of,
and hence disempowers, the general public but also unwittingly serves to promote a
rather parochial attitude to the past as the other.
Archaeology, Society and Identity 148

Also, emphasising the ˜greatness™ of the site in terms of scale, including the recon-
structed scale of the population (c. 500), the number of potsherds and other artefacts
excavated, and so on, not only makes the past relativisable by increasingly painting
the picture in a quanti¬able manner but also makes the past alienable, and that
exactly contradicts the desire of people who are fed up with the relentless pursuit of
economic gains, the backbone of the economic success of post-Second World War
Japan, which alienates many from the life“world whose function as a stable source of
a sense of security has increasingly been eroded by hyper-capitalistic pro¬t-making
through the endless generation of differences and relativisation. In fact, the focus of
interest expressed by the local population in the outcomes of the excavation has been
on the detail of the lifestyles vividly reconstructed from well-preserved artefacts and
ecofacts (e.g. Okada and NHK 1997, 189“234), rather than the ˜greatness™ of the
site. People feel close to the Jomon people by seeing similarities in their contempo-
rary equivalents of such mundane artefacts as culinary remains and a small basket
affectionately called the Jomon ˜pochette™ (cf. OCJW 1996).
Even if the unconscious desire of creating the transcendental out of the site suc-
ceeded momentarily, it is bound to fail. Sannai-Maruyama discourse, after all, is a
local discourse, or comes sooner or later to be perceived as a local-interest-driven
discourse, and can effectively and easily be relativised: in other words, the discourse
is too concrete to be genuinely transcendental (see Chapter 3.8). It is ironic that
the Sannai-Maruyama discourse, which is tacitly implied to derive its strength from
antipathy to the established discourse of seeking the origin of the Japanese way of
life/Japaneseness in the Yayoi period and at the beginning of the rice paddy-¬eld
agriculture-based way of life, has ended up seeking the same in a different socio-
cultural/technological complex, that is the Jomon. As fully illustrated above, the
Yayoi and the Jomon discursive spaces draw their boundaries not only with abstract
symbolic traits but also with concrete traits such as differential site distribution. In
that sense, again, the creation of the transcendental out of the Sannai-Maruyama
discourse is bound to fail; the discourse is based upon its spatio-temporal base,
which is inevitably concrete and bound to be compared with the other potential bases
upon which transcendental images are created. Hence, many competing, ˜would-be™
transcendental discourses continue to come out: the oldest and largest still remain
the constitutive traits of many of them. And, an emerging trend in the generation
of the narrative of the oldest is particularly suggestive in predicting the future of
transcendental narratives.
For instance, the calibrated carbon-14 dates taken from carbonised residues on
the surface of pots dating from the earliest typo-chronological phase of the Yayoi
have attracted huge media coverage, public interest and controversy (Harunari
et al. 2003). These dates are 400“500 years before the date (500“400 BC) which was
given from cross-dating connecting the relative-dated artefacts from the archipelago
and artefacts in the Korean peninsula and mainland China, whose absolute dates
can be inferred with a certain feasibility (e.g. Okazaki 1971). The point which is of
particular relevance to the current argument is that solely the antiquity of the dates
was given attention in the initial coverage, and it was associated with such phrases
that the textbook entry had to be amended even before the proper peer, scienti¬c
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 149

re-examination of the dating had begun. Interestingly enough, the calibrated carbon-
14 dates allegedly putting back the date for the beginning of the Kofun period were
also released to the media a short time later (newspaper articles: see Gekkan bunkazai
hakkutsu-shutsudo joho (The monthly buried cultural property-related excerpts from
newspapers), July 2003 issue). What we can see here, it seems to me, is the surfac-
ing of a tacit desire for the elimination of meaning content in constructing a new
transcendental archaeological entity: instead of factors which have residual mean-
ing content, hence causing controversy, such as the largest and oldest site, purely
quanti¬able factors such as the outcomes of scienti¬c dating are now coming to the

No way out?
The situation and trends like the above, if continued unchecked, would no doubt
further accelerate the thirst for yet more transcendental discourses, and would lead to
further fragmentation of the self and identity of archaeologists and the general public
alike. Needless to say, this leads to the endless relativisation of one™s standpoint and
However, the generation of nihilism is not con¬ned to the realm of the circulation
and consumption of created archaeological narratives. The generation of nihilism
of a self-re¬‚exive kind plagues an important locale at the interface between the
archaeologist and the general public, where the source of archaeological knowledge
creation is obtained: the excavation.

5.3 The late-/high-/post-modern condition and archaeological practice:
rescue archaeology and site protection in Japan
The rescue context as the node of late-modern problems
As illustrated above, the rise of nihilism and the narrative of the extreme/
transcendental are two sides of the same coin: a reaction to the radicalisation of func-
tional differentiation, and the fragmentation of the general discursive space driven by
hyper-capitalism. How does the phenomenon express itself in the interface between
the archaeologist and the general public? Let us investigate it by examining rescue
archaeology and site protection, together constituting a signi¬cant discursive space
where the archaeologist and the general public meet as ˜stakeholders™, as we brie¬‚y
saw at the beginning of Chapter 1.
In Japan, as elsewhere in the world, the vast majority of excavations are con-
ducted under rescue circumstances. In that sense, the excavation can be perceived
as a problematisation in contemporary society of socio-economic issues; negotiations
over issues such as who covers how much of the cost, how much time can be ˜spared™
for it, and so on, take place routinely, as we saw in the examples of the rescue excava-
tion and subsequent preservation of the Yoshinogari, and a mutual understanding of
a professional and pragmatic kind between developers and ˜rescuers™, taking the form
of situational tacit knowledge, is often developed. However, what I would like to
focus on here is something deeper, i.e., what is behind the socio-economic issues
articulated and discussed through the process of the negotiation and what structures
Archaeology, Society and Identity 150

the way they are articulated and discussed (cf. Notomi 1997). To put it in a more
concrete manner, what I would like to analyse is a set of ˜binary codes™, along which
the boundary of the rescue and site protection-related discursive space is reproduced,
and which structure the way the discussion goes by differentiating what is desirable
from what is not for the excavation and, particularly, the protection/preservation of
the site.
The binary codes, in this case, obviously, are constituted by reducing the com-
plexity constituted by a matrix of innumerable interconnected factors which are
drawn upon in the aforementioned negotiation, and the economic factors amongst
them played a particularly signi¬cant role in the interconnection of these factors.
However, it has to be noted that socio-cultural factors, as illustrated in the portrayal
of the Yoshinogari and the Sannai-Maruyama discourses, signi¬cantly in¬‚uence the
way a distinction is made between what is and what is not ˜economic™, and it is this
socio-culturally determined distinction that constitutes a signi¬cant axis along which
the binary codes de¬ning the discourse of rescue excavations are laid.
By ˜economic™ in this case I mean to make money well-spent: this includes the
decision to spend money for a long-term ˜pro¬t™ for the institution(s) concerned
by knowing that the expenditure will not yield any short-term return; should gain-
ing short-term pro¬t be the absolute priority, and perceived by the majority of the
general public to be so, the preservation of the site would not be an agendum. The
recognition/de¬nition of long-term pro¬t, in this case, is interconnected with various
socio-cultural concerns, such as the preservation and use of local cultural heritage, or
the trace of the great deeds of the ancestors, and these concerns are often articulated
through the experience of dif¬culty in acquiring stable self identity in contemporary
society as the Sannai-Maruyama case well exempli¬es (Chapter 5.2). This dif¬culty,
however, appears to be experienced differently by the archaeologist and the general
public, and it can be expected that the dif¬culty is dealt with differently, by the for-
mer as the provider of the narrative of the past and by the latter as its consumer. This
discrepancy may well hold the key to understanding the mechanism of the generation
of the site-excavation-based narratives of the extreme, and hence deserves a careful

Self identi¬cation and discursive formation from rescuing
Let us begin from a constitutive characteristic of functionally differentiated soci-
ety (see Chapter 3.6). The spatio-temporal path/movements of individuals in the
scales of social life, i.e. the everyday, medium (monthly, yearly, etc.), and lifetime
scales, differ spectacularly from one individual to another in industrialised countries
in modernity, in contemporary society in particular. It means that we cannot rely in
communication on the belief of shared experience, which is based upon homogeneity
in the spatio-temporal path/movement in those scales. This implies a range of sugges-
tions for the consideration, from the perspective of the spatio-temporal constitution
of social life, of the nature and character of contemporary society, that have already
been touched upon earlier in this volume, but what is of particular importance for
the current argument is the fact that sharing biographical knowledge cannot normally
be hoped for on the occasion of communication in this circumstance. This means
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 151

that those who communicate with one another do not know how the other has come
to be what s/he is/appears or how s/he behaves and they have to presuppose that in
This leads to the following consequences. First, one is chronically under pressure
to reidentify what one is on each occasion of communication. Second, this also makes
one feel it is possible/easy to become someone else. In fact, to become someone
else by changing one™s life-course, which was unimaginable/dif¬cult in pre-modern
and classical-modern societies, is now possible. Third, through the experience of
chronically reidentifying oneself, the changing/reinventing chronically of what one is
itself becomes the aim/meaning of one™s life. The economic system of contemporary
society, i.e., hyper-capitalism, fully utilises this phenomenon and continues to pro¬t,
as illustrated (see Chapter 5.1).
Bearing in mind this broad picture of life in contemporary society, if we shift our
focus to the everyday life of those who are involved in the excavation and protection
of sites in Japan, some striking, and potentially signi¬cant, contrasts to the ordinary
general public can be found. The average everyday life of rescue excavation of¬-
cers in Japan is full of ¬xity and biographic experience which life in contemporary
society commonly lacks, or is perceived to lack. The majority of rescue excavation
of¬cers in Japan are attached to the education boards of local governments. They are
public of¬ce workers. Their social status is, in the public™s perception, fairly high,
although a widespread mistrust of the public servant at all levels from a surge of
corruption charges scandalously covered by the media (including some incidents in
which excavation reports which have been stated as published on paper with certain
public expenditure have not yet been published) has tarnished it substantially, and
their expected life-course in terms of career advancement is highly stable. The main
content of their work, excavating sites and managing allied administrative matters,
is also highly routinised. The methodology of, and techniques/equipment used in,
the excavation are highly standardised, and training courses for the rescue of¬cers
are run by a semi-governmental agency, Nara Cultural Properties Research Insti-
tute (cf. www.nabunken.go.jp). In all, once settled, both the everyday life and the
life-course of Japanese local government-attached excavation of¬cers are stable and
predictable, particularly in terms of the spatio-temporal organisation of their move-
ments. The movement of an of¬cer working for a small township education board
would be very much con¬ned to the inside of the township border for the duration
of his/her career, moving between the home, the of¬ce and the sites, which often
makes their knowledge on various local matters truly encyclopedic.
The stability, ¬xity and predictability of life in the profession often attracts media
attention: the everyday life and biography of the of¬cer in charge of a site yield-
ing a ˜media-worthy™ artefact/feature or two, such as the Yoshinogari and Sannai-
Maruyama, are often depicted with a sense of curiosity, sympathy, admiration and
tacit ridicule of his/her often lifetime commitment to local archaeology, which does
not bring anything pro¬table but self-satisfaction, and his/her ˜pre-modern™ lifestyle,
i.e., a lifestyle full of stability, repetition, and predictability which appears totally
different from that of the masses (e.g. Okada and NHK 1997; Notomi 1997).
Media interest obviously derives from the fact that it is the traces of the life of
Archaeology, Society and Identity 152

˜our ancestors™, the epitome of stability, ¬xity and predictability, which we believe/are
made to believe the ancestors enjoyed and we have lost, that they excavate every day.
Naturally, the tone of the narrative which the media tries to set is that which empha-
sises the lost stability, ¬xity and predictability which can only be revisited through
the mediation of the archaeologist who him/herself lives a relatively stable, ¬xed and
predictable life in a contemporary society which is characterised by its ¬‚uidity and
unpredictability (Bauman 2000b, Chapter 2).
Meanwhile, the rescue archaeologists also share the subjective topography of con-
temporary society with the general public, whose spatio-temporal path of movement
in the aforementioned scales is not so ¬xed and stable, and has become less so as the
prolonged economic recession has led to the adoption of ˜¬‚exible™, i.e., short-term
contract-based, employment styles. This increasingly accelerates the radicalisation of
functional differentiation, in which we come to realise that there is no longer anything
stable and universal with which we can identify ourselves. A common reaction is the
widespread adoption of the technology of self identi¬cation unique in contemporary
society: chronically reinventing/reidentifying one™s identity, as illustrated earlier in
this chapter. In circumstances in which you cannot rely on a shared horizon when
communicating, what you can do is to monitor the situation and decide how to act
on each occasion of communication, and that, as mentioned, inevitably involves the
reidenti¬cation of oneself. Through such an experience of chronically reidentifying
who one is, the chronic reidenti¬cation of the self itself becomes the aim of one™s
life in order to reduce the stress caused by the contingency of communication. The
shortening of fashion cycles, the explosion of Internet culture, etc., can be explained
as chronic attempts by the mass to reidentify themselves (Bauman 2000b). Even if
rescue archaeologists live relatively ¬xed, stable lives, they cannot escape the real-
ity of contemporary society. They are pressurised to be ˜someone else™ by breaking
their ˜routine™. Serious ethno-methodological research (Gar¬nkel 1984) needs to be
conducted to verify this thesis, which is based upon my limited personal communi-
cation with colleagues working as rescue excavators, but the explosive increase in the
number of local archaeological journals emphasising their interests in the ¬endishly
minute detail of local sites, the artefacts they yield and their informal/unconventional
character, and of activities in cyberspace, seems to me to re¬‚ect the situation well;
these media offer a discursive space in which individuals can competitively express
often very minute differences from one another in their opinions by either ignoring,
or intentionally choosing to be different from, pre-existing disciplinary codes.
The encounter with a site which yields a number of ˜important™ ¬ndings is cer-
tainly an occasion for rescue archaeologists in which the sleepy routine can be broken;
the excavation will be covered by the media and the excavation of¬cer(s) and con-
cerned academic/nonacademic archaeologists will start considering the possibility
of preserving the site by having it scheduled by the Agency for Cultural Affairs
(www.bunka.go.jp/). It is this kind of situation in which a distinct discursive space
emerges and starts reproducing itself as if it is an autonomous entity. It is this dis-
cursive space of the preservation of the site and its nature and character to which we
now turn.
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 153

To preserve or not to preserve: the discursive space of the preservation of the site
The discursive space of the preservation of the site, as a communication system (see
Chapter 3), reproduces itself as a series of discussions and negotiations, and the
issues speci¬cally raised in this discursive space range from (a) how important the
site is, through (b) who covers how much of the cost of repurchasing the land from
the developer(s), to (c) what bene¬t to the local economy/general welfare can be
extracted from the preservation? All the issues are obviously interconnected as at
the same time each of them constitutes a sub-discursive space in which a unique
set of ˜binary codes™ structures the way the discussion goes by tacitly differentiating
what is desirable from what is not for carrying on the discourse towards a desirable
agreement. For instance, the binary codes for the reproduction of the sub-discursive
space (b) would consist of payment : non-payment, how much to pay : how little
to pay, and so on, and that for the reproduction of the sub-discursive space (c)
would consist of bene¬cial (for whom) : unbene¬cial (for whom), how bene¬cial (for
whom) : how unbene¬cial (for whom), and so on. However, it is the sub-discursive
space (a) that determines the ˜tone™ of the way in which the entire discursive space
works, i.e., the tone set by the sub-discursive space (a) determines the extent to
which both those who support and those who oppose the preservation feel able to
compromise. In that regard, I wish to focus on the set of binary codes that structures
the discourse/discursive space of the importance/value of a site.
Three forces of discursive formation come in and draw up the set of binary codes:
the academic, the media and administrative/¬nancial forces. As far as common-sensical
thinking goes, the academic force would be expected to play the decisive role in the
discussion of the importance of a site. However, in actuality, the media force of
discursive formation plays a determinant role, and that seems to me to imply/create
some serious problems.
Let me illustrate the operation of the media force of discursive formation and inter-
pret the source of its signi¬cance/dominance in the reproduction of the discursive
space of the importance, and hence the preservation, of the site. In order to do so,
let us go back to the nature and characteristics of the spatio-temporal organisation
of social life in contemporary society. The lack of ¬xity, stability and predictability
sets the background against which, it has been argued, the unique technology of the
self identi¬cation of contemporary society, described by late-/high-/post-modernity,
is created: the chronic reinvention/reidenti¬cation of the self. At the same time, the
stress caused by chronically reinventing/reidentifying oneself necessitates the cre-
ation of the virtual reality/narrative of a life full of ¬xity, stability and predictability.
Sometimes it takes the form of making the excessive care of the body, in which the
¬‚oating mind having to make sense of ¬‚oating meanings can be ¬xed, a dominant
routine in one™s life, as touched upon earlier in this chapter. In many cases, though, it
takes the form of the virtual reality of nostalgia for the past in general in which either
everything is ¬xed because everything has already happened and hence cannot/need
not be changed or everything is primitive and ruled by tradition and hence one does
not have to make any decision but follow the routine. Both of these somewhat ˜sys-
temic™ reactions by the self to the experience of the spatio-temporal organisation of
Archaeology, Society and Identity 154

contemporary society, characterised by functional differentiation and fragmentation,
are mediated and ful¬lled by the media force.
Exposure to the media is an occasion for the individual to become ˜someone else™
other than the ˜routinised™ self. The media constitute a discursive space in which
the chronic creation of differences, i.e., gathering and distributing the news, is the
norm of conduct. Meanwhile, the media sell themselves by regularly featuring items
evoking the image of a long-gone ¬xity, stability and predictability and a sense of
nostalgia, and their coverage of the discovery of an ˜important™ new site, whose
importance is based upon the media™s saying the site is important (circularity, a con-
stitutive characteristic of modernity, again!), constitutes an important part of their
evocation of nostalgia for the increase of their pro¬t, e.g., the sales and circulation
¬gure of the newspaper. Why is this the case, and why is it not the academic force
of discursive formation which determines the importance of the site? Obviously the
cause is multifaceted, but I would argue it is the ontological desire of the rescue
excavators to become someone else, as illustrated above, that plays a signi¬cant role
in their creating and telling narratives which exactly conform to what the media want
to hear from them. That is the narratives of (x) the oldest, (y) the emergence of a tra-
dition which had survived over an incredible number of years before being destroyed
during the post-Second World War economic development of modern Japan, and
(z) the emergence of the early agrarian state to which the ancestry of the imperial
line is thought to be traced back that conforms, in one way or another, to the mental
topography shared by the Japanese of their past, as illustrated earlier. Examples of
(x), (y) and (z) will be given later.
It is often rumoured/heard in Japanese archaeologists™ conversation that some
˜white lies™ have been told by the excavation of¬cer to the media in order to cre-
ate an ˜atmosphere™ in which the ¬nancial/administrative force can be persuaded to
back down. It is true that the recognition/valuation by the media force of the impor-
tance of a site gives an incentive to the administrative/¬nancial force to consider the
preservation of the site and the payment of the necessary cost because the adminis-
trative/¬nancial force knows that at times the halting of the project and preservation
of the site can bene¬t them ¬nancially in the long run: the administrative/¬nancial
forces, as well as the academic force of the discursive formation, recognise that the
media force plays a very signi¬cant role in shaping the sense of reality in contem-
porary society, and if skilfully packaged, that which ¬ts it can bring considerable
pro¬t. In that sense, a preserved and ˜reconstructed™ site, as a number of examples
such as the Yoshinogari and Sannai-Maruyama show, can bring as much money
and economic bene¬t to the region as the development project does (Figure 5.1),
particularly when its importance is recognised by the media to be attractive enough
to its audience to bring pro¬t to them by advertising and promoting its importance.
In that regard, the relationship between the media and the administrative/¬nancial
forces is mutual and circular, i.e., the sites which make pro¬t for the media make
pro¬t for the local government and the local economy, and vice versa.
However, the academic force, at least, can try to in¬‚uence the way the media force
of the discursive formation of the preservation of the site operates in order to control
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 155

Figure 5.1 Popularity and economic bene¬ts of the reconstructed sites: the Yoshinogari (photographs
by the present author).
Archaeology, Society and Identity 156

the way ˜white lies™ are told, or to avoid the telling of them altogether. Nevertheless,
the endeavour of illustrating problematic implications of the aforementioned nar-
ratives (x), (y), and (z), and of telling the media what they (rescue archaeologists
and/or academics) think signi¬cant, rarely appears to take place. At times it even
appears the case that it is the media force which determines the way the academic
force operates in the discursive formation of the preservation of a particular site (cf.
Notomi 1997, 102). For instance, at the Sannai-Maruyama, Habu pointed out that
the site is characterised by its uninterrupted occupation by a large number of people
in academic papers as well as popular writings/media coverage despite the fact that
signi¬cant transformations of the intra-site structure and population size have been
well recognised (2004, 120“121). It can be said that those academic papers and
public presentations sticking to the misleading thesis constitute pseudo-science, but
the point is that those who have written are regarded as scholars and their work is
regarded as academically credible, despite their self-contradiction.
The consequences which the domination of the media force leads to are sometimes
bizarre, and yield damaging implications concerning the position of the discursive
space of the past, in which archaeology is supposed to play a dominant role, in
the general discursive space of contemporary society. We Japanese archaeologists
have witnessed a number of cases lately, such as the thesis claiming the Sannai-
Maruyama as a town of the Jomon hunter-gatherer civilisation (see Chapter 5.2).
In these cases, highly problematic comments, often contradicting the knowledge
achieved by the scholarship but con¬rming what the media force wants to hear,
are aired by the excavators and university academics concerned.6 These comments
are, quite ironically, subsequently criticised by the media for either exaggeration or
misrepresentation of the information. The operation of circularity, a determinant
characteristic of modernity and functionally differentiated social formation, again,
can be seen here: put cynically, the media create the cause of the misrepresentation
of archaeological evidence and exaggerated interpretations and pick them up and
accuse the archaeologists, in order to make pro¬t.
This exaggeration/misrepresentation, in most cases, is made towards the direction
of over-conforming what the media force wants to hear/is supposed by the academic
force to want to hear, i.e., the aforementioned narratives (x), (y), and (z). Therefore,
a set of binary codes is in operation in the reproduction of the discursive space of the
preservation of the site in which the discovery of something to do with (x) the ˜old-
est™,7 (y) the emergence of a tradition which had survived over an incredible number
of years before being destroyed during the post-Second World War development of
modern Japan (such as various rice agriculture-related habits reconstructed from
wooden implements shaped like those which were widely used in rural areas before
the 1960s), and (z) the emergence of the early agrarian state to which the ances-
try of the imperial line is thought to be traced back (the ˜Yamatai™ discourse, see

6 E.g. the hunting-gathering community of the Sannai-Maruyama settlement having been ˜class-divided™
(Okada and NHK 1997, 210).
7 Such as the forged, and now discredited, lower Palaeolithic sites claimed and widely and excitedly
reported by many newspapers to date from 500,000 bp, (see NKK 2003 for details).
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 157

Chapter 4.3), are regarded as good for the continuation of dialogue for the preser-
vation of the site, and in which other implications of the ¬ndings, regardless of their
character, i.e., factual, interpretative, falsifying the established thesis, and so on, are
regarded as ˜irrelevant™ for the continuation of dialogue for the preservation of the
site and, hence, regarded as the subjects of academic indulgence by all three forces
of the discursive formation concerned. For instance, though in a slightly different
situation, at the Yoshinogari, those who criticise the way the reconstruction has been
carried out (see Chapter 1) in terms of its unfalsi¬ability and over-reconstruction
are accused of being irresponsible for not coming up with alternatives, despite the
obvious fact that the critics are arguing the impossibility of proposing anything sci-
enti¬cally responsible (Notomi 1997, 99“100, 115): here, taking an academically
responsible stance is regarded as irresponsible.
The at times emotionally charged over-enthusiasm of the academic force in
con¬rming the above set of binary codes, I suspect, can be understood to derive
from the aforementioned ontological desire of those who constitute the academic
force, i.e., rescue archaeologists and/or academics, and this thesis, I think, can be
supported by the following fact: most of the voices criticising the aforementioned
situation are heard in journals of private study/research groups for limited, like-
minded audiences or the chat rooms, bulletin boards and web logs of individual
websites. These media exactly con¬rm the attributes of the technology of the
self identi¬cation of contemporary society: these media offer a space in which
individuals can competitively express their often very minute differences from one
another by ignoring pre-existing disciplinary codes in order to acquire a virtual
sense of chronically reinventing/reidentifying themselves. Regardless of whether one
is for or against the way in which the discursive space of the preservation of the site
is reproduced, archaeologists, like the general public, adopt the technology of the
self identi¬cation of contemporary society. In other words, both those who are for
and against telling ˜white lies™ for the preservation of sites and those who are for
and against maintaining scienti¬c responsibility by sacri¬cing threatened sites are
equally under pressure of chronically recon¬rming and renewing their identity, and
they have to cope with the situation in one way or another.

We might end up being indifferent to everything
If the technology of our being ourselves, i.e., the technology of self identi¬cation,
itself causes problems such as those I have illustrated in contemporary society, the
¬rst step in solving them would be to grasp the background of the emergence and the
reproduction of the technology, the way the technology is employed in each context
of our everyday life, and the consequences the employment of the technology brings
As illustrated, the reproduction of the structure of the discursive space of the
preservation of the site is dominated by the media force of discursive formation, and
the way the academic force of discursive formation, which is supposed to critically
counter the media force™s domination, reproduces itself is so fragmented that it
is unable to critically assess the state which it is in. The way the academic force
Archaeology, Society and Identity 158

Figure 5.2 Archaeological communication system and its ˜late-/high-/post-modern™ environment. Com-
pare with Figure 4.5.

reproduces itself is fragmented in terms of its spatio-temporal structure: the space for
the internal debate has been shifted from established journals with a wider circulation
to privately published journals for limited, like-minded audiences or, to a much
smaller extent, to the chat rooms and web logs of individual websites. As argued, I
think they are archaeologists™ systemic responses to the radicalisation of the nature
of contemporary social formation which is described as late-/high-/post-modernity
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 159

(Figure 5.2). The trend itself cannot be blamed because the trend is, as argued above,
a systemic reaction to the ever-enhanced nature and character of modernity: what I
¬nd problematic is that we Japanese archaeologists appear to have lost the integrated
discursive space in which the modes of our individual discursive formations can be
critically compared and mutually assessed. This, I would argue, constitutes the main
cause of our not even being bothered with the social implications of our uncritically
cooperating with the reproduction of the narrative of the extreme, i.e., (x) the ˜oldest™,
(y) the emergence of a tradition which had survived over an incredible number of
years before being destroyed during the post-Second World War development of
modern Japan, and (z) the emergence of the early agrarian state to which the ancestry
of the imperial line is thought to be traced back.
A fear is that we would all end up being indifferent to everything but differentiating
ourselves from all the others in various ways, and the discipline of archaeology, the
only discursive space in which the history of the human being before the invention
of writing can be talked about, would end up being dominated by the attitude of
anything goes. And, in such an atmosphere, the only thing that matters is not to
violate each other™s pursuit. Now we have reached full circle; the stakeholders of the
Yoshinogari, as we saw at the beginning of this volume, were operating with the shared
principle of not disturbing the reproduction of the site-speci¬c discursive space as
pursuing each person™s own interest. However, this peculiar equilibrium led to the
narrative line unwittingly conforming to a variant of the narrative of the extreme
touched upon above, i.e., the narrative of Queen Himiko and the Yamatai-koku
polity as the origin of the Japanese ancient state, which helps newspapers and other
types of the media to sell themselves well and which made the preservation of the
site and the promotion of the preserved site possible. In this late-/high-/post-modern
world seemingly dominated by cultural concerns epitomised by multiculturalism,
economy, after all, may still determine the way things go in the last instance.

5.4 Fragmentation, relativisation and second-order observation
As illustrated by using the ˜post-processual archaeologies™ movement and what is
happening to Japanese archaeology, it seems that archaeologists, at least in the ˜devel-
oped countries™, are now situated in a condition in which virtually every discursive
formation is bound to be fragmented and relativised.
As fully illustrated in Chapter 3, the society we live in is, according to the German
sociologist Niklas Luhmann, a functionally differentiated society. The functionally
differentiated society is not a strati¬ed society. In the strati¬ed society, the identity
of the individual is acquired through his or her class af¬liation. In the functionally
differentiated society, individuals have to identify themselves differently from one
locale to another in the spatio-temporal path they move through every day. For
instance, a person is an archaeologist at the site and the laboratory, an enthusiastic
supporter of a certain football team at the stadium and in front of the TV set, a
connoisseur at the restaurant, a critic in a political discussion, and so forth. Each
individual has to cope with shifts from one setting to another by drawing upon
different sets of expectations and different binary codes with which to determine
what is suitable and what is not suitable for each situation and setting.
Archaeology, Society and Identity 160

This means that one cannot stick to any one set of principles with which to decide
how to act and how to rationalise, i.e., make sense and accept, the outcomes of his/her
acts. It also means that one cannot draw on any universal value system such as class
af¬liation or religion, even if one wanted to do so; the spatio-temporal structure of
contemporary society and the psyche constituted in it make it impossible to cling
to the illusion of universal experience. However, we have to decide how to act in a
given situation in one way or another anyway, and decisions can only be made by
drawing upon certain value systems. Value systems are like the blind spot. Without
the blind spot, we cannot see. By referring to value systems, we judge, but we never
observe them at the moment when we make the judgment about things by drawing
upon them. Having lost the illusion of their universality, or having lost the condition
upon which the illusion of the universality is sustained, the true nature of value
systems, which was concealed by the illusion of the universality of experience, e.g.,
the suffering of a social class, has been revealed: value systems are the blind spot.
We cannot observe them at the very moment we use them, and that is the only
occasion when they surface. Therefore, unless we consciously monitor the way we
make judgments about things, we are never able to approach value systems. And, even
if we manage to approach them, the approach itself inevitably has to be conducted
by drawing upon a certain value system: we can never eliminate value systems, as we
cannot see things without the blind spot.
The rise of ˜multiculturalism™, the ˜post-processual™ discourse, as I argued, is its
archaeological expression, and can be argued to be a systemic response to this. The
seemingly endless relativisation of one™s epistemological base in making sense of the
world leads to the acceptance of plurality on the one hand and the mutual ignorance
of each other™s stances on the other. A symptom of the phenomenon is, as mentioned,
that it makes the reproduction of a critical dialogue very dif¬cult, and this is also the
case for the practitioners of ˜post-processual archaeologies™ who claim to open up
new discursive spaces for self-critical enquiries into the past.
It is ironic that post-processual archaeologies themselves appear to have become
an established genre and, despite their claim of devotion to plurality, the discourse
reproduced by the practitioners appears at times to be exclusive rather than inclu-
sive and its contents homogeneous rather than productively heterogeneous. The
discourses which they put forward are, despite their different outlooks, almost with-
out exception, about the technology of self identi¬cation through the embodiment
of recursive daily experiences, and power and dominance generated by the work-
ing of the technology. They are also homogeneous and united in their dismissal of
frameworks concerning social totality and evolution.
One can say that this is inevitable. One might well say it is because the coming
of post-modern conditions has made the body and self identity the most important
issues of all because there is hardly anything other than the body and self identity of
which we feel we are in control (see Chapter 5.1 above). However, one can easily see,
thanks to the sophistication of the mass media (ironically one of the very causes of
the fragmentation and nihilism in Japanese archaeology as illustrated above, which
constitute a crucial part of post-modern conditions) that this is not universally the
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 161

case. In many countries where the exploitation by multinational conglomerates of
an unprotected labour force (which has accelerated since the collapse of the Cold
War equilibrium of world systems) is the cause of the most serious social injustice,
historical materialism as a grand evolutionary narrative which offers an image of a
just society and the way towards it retains its reality (cf. Chapman 2003).
An irony is that, as touched upon above, this arrogant dismissal by the post-
processualists of modern grand narratives derives from the belief that evolutionism
“ or general systems theory-oriented discourses “ can do nothing but harm those
whom post-processualists regard as the oppressed. However, it must be of interest
to many how the majority of today™s oppressed are a modern creation and have been
created by waves of globalisation (including the colonial expansion of Europe as
well as the ongoing one) and the working of international capitalism and its need to
continuously exploit the uneven distribution of capital by drawing and redrawing the
boundary between groups of various sorts which are made to hate and discriminate
against one another, and not only the study of the way in which already created
inequalities are internalised and perpetuated at a speci¬c time in history but also the
study of the way in which the conditions upon which those inequalities are based
came about in the ¬rst place must be of interest to many. And it seems undeniable that
re¬ned versions of evolutionism “ or general systems theory-oriented discourses “
are better suited to the investigation of such an issue (e.g. Kristiansen and Rowlands
1996; Chapman 2003).
In other words, there is bound to be a number of ways with a sense of reality in
which to make sense of and talk/write about the world, as the historical trajectory
which regions of the world has been through varies. Besides, any attempt at making
sense of talking/writing about the world in functional differentiation/modernity is
destined to be exposed to the scrutiny of the way the world is made sense of and
talked/written about because, as repeatedly pointed out and emphasised throughout
the foregoing, we cannot rely on sharable/universal values when doing it. Therefore,
the observation of the way in which an observation is made is inevitably subject to
scrutiny, and that scrutiny, as an observation, again, is subject to an observation of
the way the scrutiny is made because the selection of the value system employed in
one observation is bound to be contingent rather than inevitable and hence is bound
to critically examine the reason. Logically speaking, this chain of observations, the
second-order observation, never ends.
What the discourse of post-processual archaeologies is effectively about is to dis-
miss the inevitability of second-order observations and to give privilege to a certain
value system which is felt to be real to the advocates, many of whom live in industri-
alised countries in the conditions which have been described so far. What is actually
happening is the silencing of those who feel reality with the discourses with which
the advocates of post-processual archaeologies do not feel to be reality. It is another
paradox in contemporary archaeology: the post-processual project of making archae-
ology more sensitive to the voices of the oppressed is made possible by effectively
silencing the oppressed. And this trend is accelerated by the fact that post-processual
writings constitute an established genre in the western publishing world, which
Archaeology, Society and Identity 162

dominates the world in terms of circulation, packaging and advertisement, the last
two of which emphasise nuances, and care for differences and related aesthetics; the
post-processualisation of the practice of archaeology is a part of the march of hyper-
capitalism, silencing other voices in the form of homogenising through selling more.
It should also be added that how much care is taken of the ethical implications is
adopted as an important criterion with which to measure the quality of archaeological
practices. Allowing as many ˜stakeholders™ (Hodder 2003, Chapter 16) as possible
to have a say is an effective way to clear the criterion (Hodder 2003). Another
frequently adopted strategy is to allow the ˜indigenous voice(s)™ speci¬cally relevant
to the project to have maximum say. Both of these stances equally intend to impose
a certain closure, albeit temporary, to the potentially endless chain of argumentation
whereby to prevent the practices from sinking into complete relativism, i.e., anything
However, it should be quite clear from the argumentation of the volume so far
(that of Chapter 5 in particular) that this strategy does not work in the way it is
intended. The indigenous voice is, after all, also a speci¬c way to observe what hap-
pened in the past and what is going on in the present, and hence subject to criticism
and other socio-cultural commentaries, i.e., observations of the observation, from
those who do not share the world view/epistemology. And any of these observations,
i.e., second-order observations, can be subject to further criticism, i.e., observations
of the observation of the observation. The process is bound to be endless. Besides,
the reaction by the designated stakeholder whose claim is prioritised a priori to any
criticism can be hostile and, hence, unfruitful because of the fact that the stakeholder™s
position is promised by the individual/group in charge of the project to be prioritised
and any criticism violates that sense of arti¬cial security. The situation might result
in, again, ironically, the silencing of the very indigenous voice which is supposed
to be deliberately given a platform because of the hostility and resentment possi-
bly generated from the fact that the indigenous voice is being unfairly prioritised:
perceived to be unfair particularly in the current politico-economic condition in
which the majority and formerly privileged come to feel vulnerable to the accel-
eration of the hyper-capitalistic trend of relentless cost-cutting by downsizing and
the rapid and frequent relocation of factories to the cheapest labour market at the
time. This is one of the most serious dif¬culties multiculturalism faces, particularly
in many industrialised nations (Semprini 2000), and if the above argument were
the case, any attempt at ˜empowering™ previously/tending to be suppressed minority/
indigenous voices would be met with more intensely hostile reactions than their not
being empowered (contra Hodder 1999, Chapter 9).
Besides, multiculturalism, quite ironically, has the intrinsic tendency of silencing
voices other than its self-claimed advocates. Multiculturalists operate/communicate,
as those who are not multiculturalists do, by differentiating what do and do not
conform to be as they are/should be (see Chapter 3, especially 3.5 on communication
and the role of boundary formation). The multiculturalist position advocates the
view that there are uncountable equally valid ways to make such differentiation in
order to identify what one is. In that sense, this position is, on the surface, supposed
Fragmentation, multiculturalism and beyond 163

to be the most tolerant and inclusive (and hence ˜universally valid™) of all social
philosophies. However, the position, in actuality, can be the most intolerant. The
advocates of the position tend to forget that the position itself is made possible by
the differentiation, i.e., by excluding, dismissing and criticising those views which
claim that there are different degrees of validity between different ways to identify what
one is and, in that sense, not exactly tolerant and inclusive. However, belief in its own
tolerance and inclusiveness makes the advocates blind to this self-contradiction. In
other words, believing themselves to be tolerant and inclusive in a transcendental way
by excluding those views which they recognise to be intolerant and exclusive, makes
them believe that their position constitutes a universal value system. On the contrary,


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