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Welcome to Reconfiguring the Archaeological Sensibility: Mediating Heritage at Teotihuacan, Mexico

¡Bienvenidos a la página de web para mi tesis: Mediación y el Pasado Material!

Para un resumen del proyecto en español véase aqui: Resumen del proyecto.

Para una explicación de las ideas fundamentales en español véase aqui: ¿Qué es la arqueología simétrica?.

Dissertation Summary

My dissertation project presents an argument combining three common matters of concern emerging in the discipline of archaeology: 1) new thinking in the philosophy of archaeology, 2) ethical and legal imperatives to broaden archaeological engagement with the public, 3) new (digital) media and the 'platform shift' in how archaeological information is rendered, archived and accessed. Two fundamental questions direct how the dissertation combines these concerns. The first involves how to integrate archaeological practice with emerging concerns over heritage management. I endeavor to answer the question of whether it is possible to maintain objective knowledge of the past while involving the subjective values and interests of heritage-minded non-specialists. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Teotihuacan, Mexico, involved in the controversies over an installation of Wal-Mart within site boundaries and the restructuring of management policy, is emblematic of this issue. The second, intimately connected to this reconsideration of how the discipline evaluates knowledge claims, involves investigating the specifics of how archaeological representations work as the medium for visualizing such knowledge.

In exploring these questions, this dissertation suggests that new perspectives on epistemology and new (digital) representational media may resolve the tension between ethical mandates for subjective inclusion and archaeological science. Drawing upon archaeological fieldwork with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent Excavation and Restoration Project, statistical results of a Teotihuacan Valley wide survey of private citizens and INAH professionals, and ethnographic material from local leaders and archaeologists, my dissertation data suggests that the polemic of subjectivity versus objectivity has been mis-framed. Not differentiating beforehand archaeologist/specialist from non-specialist, both groups emphasized practical results over subjective values or standards of objective representation. Contrary to the current polarized settlements in archaeological method and theory favoring either processual or post-processual platforms, I conclude that a nuanced, pragmatic sensibility is mutually supported both by how archaeologists currently work on-the-ground and by the values of local communities at archaeological sites. Integrating new, participatory media (particularly this wiki forum; see below) into the project from the outset, a collaborative and dynamic representation of the project as it developed has been enabled, and accessibility and distribution of the results greatly enhanced.

Why Digital Media

As the primary medium for my Dissertation, this project has organically grown as the research progressed. Principally, the forum will not solely attempt a collaborative approach to my project - with input from archaeologists and interested community members from the Valley of Teotihuacan (6 local communities) - but will attempt to render the textual grist of the dissertation in a multiple-media format through this wiki forum. Importantly, two concepts of mediation are employed: one, rather straightforwardly comes form the legal sense of 'intercession', or 'intermediary' and will critically reconfigure the debilitating framework of 'Multivocality'/'Pluralism' for archaeological research. The other idea of 'mediation' derives semantically from the 'media' you are engaging with right now, in that the digital 'wiki' forum augments and renders interactions with archaeological subjects in a different and specific manner than other technologies, whether analog or digital - eg. paper-text based, 3-D image collages, GIS maps, etc.. The basic premise: all media translate the information they convey; mimetic correspondence (see Chapters 2-3) has been an illusory hope of modern epistemology. Therefore, the past is mediated (active verb) in and for the present in various ways depending not solely upon the informing epistemology, but upon the modes of assembling the past in media for argumentation and visualization in contemporary pursuits.

For detailed exposition of new media and its role in this dissertation, as well as a (new) media manifesto for digital scholarship see Chapter 5.

* This was a digitally designed dissertation that was launched in 2004 at the beginning of research and writing. It reflects material updated through the submission of the dissertation in December of 2007.



Dissertation Introduction

Chapter 1: World Heritage and the Inheritance of World Archaeology

Chapter 2: The Spell of Representation in Archaeological Reasoning

Chapter 3: The Archaeological Sensibility as Pragmatic Sensibility: Mediation

Chapter 4: The Past was Never No Longer: Teotihuacan Maps as Gathering of Associations

Chapter 5: Taking 'Yahoo!s' Seriously: New Media and the Platform Shift in Cultural Heritage

Chapter 6: Inheritage: Design and Analytical Methods of a Case Study

Chapter 7: Inheritage: a Case Study of Teotihuacan’s Contemporary Associations

Dissertation Conclusions

Dissertation References

Digital Archive

Geographical Location of Teotihuacan

Official Documents

Teotihuacan Statistical Survey


Descriptive Statistics

Statistical Resources



Link to Podcasts of interviews

Link to video and audio footage

Relevant Links and Discussions


For Questions regarding Human Subjects Protocol and Ethics in Social Research

Para Preguntas respecto a Protocolo para Sujetos No-Medicos y La Ética de Investigación Social


Uploaded ImageHints on Getting Started

This project Forum works just like the main Forum for your group, but if you need a refresher, take a look at Using this Forum.


Uploaded Image Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commerical Share Alike 2.5 License

When using this digital work: Webmoor,Timothy 2007. Reconfiguring the Archaeological Sensibility: mediating heritage at Teotihuacan, Mexico. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University. Electronic document from the Metamedia Lab, Stanford Archaeology Center,, accessed (date).

The paper-based dissertation (the analogue in analog) was published in an amended and shorter form as:

Posted at Mar 15/2007 01:01PM:
timwebmoor: Due to spam inundation, the pages are locked down to edits with the psswd "teotihuacan". Please enter psswd if you wish to make edits, or email me.

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