Nationalism requires the elaboration of a real or invented remote past. This review considers how archaeological data are manipulated for nationalist purposes, and it discusses the development of archaeology during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the relationship of archaeology to nation-building, particularly in Europe. Contrastive conceptions of nationality and ethnicity are presented, and it is argued that adoption of modern constructivist perspectives is incompatible with attempting to identify ethnic/national groups solely on the basis of archaeological evidence. The political uses of archaeology are also reviewed for the construction of national identities in immigrant and postcolonial states. The problematic nature of nationalistic interpretations of the archaeological record is discussed, and the essay concludes with a consideration of the professional and ethical responsibilities of archaeologists confronted with such interpretations.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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