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Gheorghe Alexandru Niculescu


Gheorghe Alexandru Niculescu is a senior researcher at the Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology; educated at the University of Bucharest (1974-1978), Ph.D. in history (2000), archaeological training and research at the aforementioned institute (since 1985); teaches archaeological theory at the University of Bucharest; published research on ancient ethnic phenomena and on the impact of nationalism on archaeological research; published research on the politics of cultural heritage in Romania and its impact on the conservation and visibility of the artifacts; currently working on the global asymmetries of archaeological research and on the properties of typological thinking and its flattening consequences on the perception of the artifacts (preliminary findings presented at conferences held in 2016 and 2017).


Cultural heritage, identity politics and archaeological research

Cultural heritage is a political construct claiming to gather under the same name, to give the similar status and protection to those material and immaterial values which should be preserved, usually for the benefit of a national entity. The selection is made by experts authorized by the state, who have privileged access to them. The main purpose of this construct is to be useful for identity politics. It also supports the superiority of authorized knowledge, the distinction between those who know and those who should chose to be instructed and led by them. Archaeology and other disciplines are expected in Romania and in other countries to produce new components of cultural heritage resembling those already classified as such, to certify their authenticity and to work towards their preservation, with no incentives to examine the cultural heritage thinking they are expected to replicate. There is no recognition of the conflict between archaeological research interests, which lead to comprehensive destruction of remains from the past and the task of cultural heritage institutions to preserve them and that indicates that those institutions care more about their ways of thinking than about the material facts that they claim are supporting them.


Arjun Appadurai, The Globalisation of Archaeology and Heritage: A Discussion with A. Appadurai”, Journal of Social Archaeology 1(1), 2001, 35–49.

Miranda Fricker, Epistemic Justice as a Condition of Political Freedom?, Synthese 190(7), 2013, 1317–1332.

Yannis Hamilakis, La trahison des archéologues? Archaeological Practice as Intellectual Activity in Postmodernity, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 12(1), 1999, 60–79.

Hodder, Ian, Cultural Heritage Rights: From Ownership and Descent to Justice and Well-Being, Anthropological Quaterly 83(4), 2010, 861–882.

Waterton, Emma and Laurajane Smith, There Is No Such Thing as Heritage. In Taking Archaeology out of Heritage, ed. Emma Waterton and Laurajane Smith, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009, 10-27.