93105 - Critical Archaeology and Heritage (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Archaeology and Cultures of the Ancient World (cod. 8855)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will understand the main theoretical, historical, social and political-ethical issues of archaeological interpretation and the study of cultural heritage, seen broadly as a multidisciplinary research field studying the relationship between human societies and the material traces of their past. Both aspects (archaeological interpretation and cultural heritage) will be explored with an emphasis on diachronic perspectives.

Course contents

This course is about the broad interplay between archaeology/ archaeological interpretation and society through time, and how the former can be, and has been used by different actors to lay claims on specific aspects of the past whose strategic importance resonates today. The course will lead students through some of the main theoretical debates in archaeology, highlighting how current views of our past are grounded in recent and not-so-recent socio-political developments at various regional, national and supra national scales. From this basic development we will go on to assess the relationship between archaeology and the new emerging field of heritage studies with a specific attention to the critical heritage approach.

The topics covered includes:

Archaeology from nationalism to Colonialism

Archaeology and politics in the 20th century

Archaeology Between science and humanities

Archaeology and socio-cultural evolution

Critical archaeology and multiple voices

From Interaction to New Materialism and back

Identity and Mobility

Archaeology, Capitalism and Patrimonialisation


The Critical heritage approach

Archaeological and heritage value – from money to affection

The role of the mediators today


Essential readings for each of the sessions are detailed in the course syllabus that can be downloaded from the Virtuale platform. The literature is here provided as a general reference for the topics discussed in the course.

Gardner, A., M. Lake & U. Sommer, (eds.) 2013. The Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Theory. : Oxford University Press.

Moshenska, G. (ed.), 2017. Key Concepts in Public Archaeology. : UCL Press.

Sørensen, M.-L. & J. Carman, (eds.) 2009. Heritage Studies: Methods and Approaches. London ; New York: Routledge.

Trigger, B.G., 2006. A History of Archaeological Thought. : Cambridge University Press. heri

Waterton, E. & S. Watson, (eds.) 2015. The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heritage Research (Palgrave handbooks). Basingstoke, Hampshire New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.


It is possible to give the exam without attending, but this will require preparing additional material to be discussed in advance with the course coordinator on a personal basis.

Teaching methods

The course will be structured in 14, 2hrs sessions. Within each session, the first hour will be devoted to a frontal lecture while the second to seminar discussion. The last session will be dedicated to the presentation of a work (see “Assessment methods” below).

Assessment methods

Assessment includes three main components:
1. Participation to the seminar discussion (contributing to the 10% of the final grade)
2. A presentation (individual or in group, inclusive of a powerpoint) (contributing to the 20% of the final grade)
3. An individual final paper whose theme will be agreed with the final course coordinator (contributing to the 70% of the final grade)

Teaching tools

The syllabus and other course material can be downloaded from the Virtuale platform

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Iacono


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.