The French-Anglophone divide in lithic research
In this provocative study, Shumon T. Hussain engages with the long-standing issue of French-Anglophone research conflicts in Palaeolithic archaeology.
- S.T. Hussain
- 14 March 2019
- Dissertation in Open Access
A plea for pluralism in Palaeolithic Archaeology
By examining a range of well-selected case studies and discursive contexts, the author shows that French and Anglophone approaches in lithic analysis are anchored in opposing cognitive frameworks. He argues that the mainstays of this division can be elucidated by calling upon the marginalised work of American philosopher Stephen C. Pepper, who captured the totality of credible Western thought in terms of four equitable world hypotheses. Based upon his insights, the dissertation demonstrates that French lithic research gravitates towards ‘contextualistic’ and ‘organicistic’ modes of inquiry, while Anglophone approaches tend to rely on ‘formistic’ and ‘mechanistic’ styles of reasoning.
Hussain carefully lays out the implications of this condition for mutual understanding and critical practice. He contends that the French-Anglophone divide can only be overcome if scholars endorse scientific pluralism and begin to seriously take into consideration both the strengths and shortcomings of different cognitive frameworks, including their own.