Truth and Power in American Archaeology


Truth and Power in American Archaeology

Alice Beck Kehoe

Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology Series

300 pages
1 photograph, 1 table, index


October 2024


$99.00 Pre-order

October 2024


$35.00 Pre-order

About the Book

In Truth and Power in American Archaeology, archaeologist and ethnohistorian Alice Beck Kehoe presents her key writings where archaeological fieldwork, ethnohistorical analysis, postcolonial anthropology, and feminist analysis intersect to provide students and scholars of anthropology an overview of the methodological and ethical issues in Americanist archaeology in the last thirty years.

Truth and Power in American Archaeology brings together Kehoe’s broad-ranging, influential articles and previously unpublished lectures to explore archaeology’s history, methods, concepts, and larger imbrication in knowledge production in the West. With her contextualizing introductions, these articles argue for recognition of scientific method in the historical sciences of archaeology paleontology, and geology; empirically grounded understandings of American First Nations’ ways of life and scientific knowledge; discussion of archaeology as expanded histories; a view of American archaeology’s social contexts of Manifest Destiny ideology, Cold War politics, and patriarchy; and a postcolonial historicist understanding of America’s real deep-time history and of the imperialist racism entrenched in mainstream American archaeology.

Author Bio

Alice Beck Kehoe is a professor of anthropology emeritus at Marquette University. She is the author or editor of twenty-one books, including North America before the European Invasions; The Land of Prehistory: A Critical History of American Archaeology; and Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession (Nebraska, 2022).


“Alice Kehoe writes with force, pulls no punches, and generates a good deal of heat. This is a body of work done in service of disciplinary reflexivity. Kehoe is an established critic of American anthropology and has been an active contributor to many efforts to better include Indigenous perspectives. Her effort is contemporary and is likely to find a significant readership.”—David W. Dinwoodie, author of Reserve Memories: The Power of the Past in a Chilcotin Community

Truth and Power in American Archaeology provides students and scholars an overview of mid-twentieth-century Americanist archaeology, a time when a small group of senior and junior scholars dominated the discipline. Kehoe describes the power exercised by a male ruling cadre that limited women’s careers and their provocative and essential approaches. She captures how much our practices of choosing colleagues, grant funding, and publishing define ‘authority,’ and how strong shadows from that period continue to darken our discipline. I highly recommend her book for its personal and remarkable insights into the academic seas through which she has navigated. It also marks a course that American archaeology must follow to include underrepresented scholars, accept diverse understandings, and engage Native peoples.”—Timothy Earle, author of How Chiefs Come to Power and recipient of the 2023 Society for American Archaeology’s Lifetime Achievement Award

“A collection of Kehoe’s ‘lost’ essays, unjustly rejected and unwisely overlooked. These important thought-pieces range from historical science to cultural landscapes, to chiefdoms and states, and to postcolonial and feminist social justice. Righteously undeterred, Kehoe situates each piece, and its fate, in its political and philosophical contexts.”—Stephen H. Lekson, curator of archaeology, emeritus, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

Table of Contents

Part 1. Archaeology Makes Histories
1. Constructing Data
2. Excluded from History
3. Revisionist Anthropology
Interpolation: Metis and Rationality, a Classical Class Struggle
Part 2. Archaeology Is a Historical Science
4. Looking at Landscapes: Disciplinary Boundaries and Unrecognized Precursors
5. How the Ancient Peigans Lived
6. The Direct Ethnographic Approach to Archaeology on the Northern Plains
Part 3. Archaeology Lives in Social Contexts
7. Chiefdoms
8. Cahokia from a Postcolonial Standpoint
Part 4. Postcolonial: Scientific Standpoint and Moral Imperative
9. Delgamuukw
10. The Muted Class: Unshackling Tradition
Part 5. The Themes that Bind

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