Sitting in the gap: Ethnoarchaeology, rock art and methodological openness

Liam M. Brady, Amanda Kearney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


For close to six decades, ethnoarchaeology has studied the present to better understand the past. However, if understanding the past is paramount, then what of the wishes and interests of those with whom we collaborate in the present? This situation raises questions such as who is ethnoarchaeology for, and how might its outcomes be valuable to both researchers and collaborators? We address these issues by focusing on the space in which researchers operate, namely the ‘gap’ between archaeological and Indigenous conceptualizations of the world, and propose methodological openness to help achieve new ways of thinking about ethnoarchaeology. Drawing on our experiences conducting rock art research in Australia and the American Southwest, we describe the complexities that emerged during conversations with Yanyuwa and Zuni elders and how they have helped bridge the methodological ‘gap’ and enrich our research and understanding of rock art.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-655
Number of pages14
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • affect
  • agency
  • American Southwest
  • Australia
  • ethnoarchaeology
  • Rock art

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