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Über eine foucaultsche Poetik der Archäologie in Kenah Cusanits Babel

Zurück zum Heft: Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 3/2023
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This essay focusses on Kenah Cusanit’s novel Babel, in which archaeology is both the subject of the plot and made visible asa practice of colonizing the (foreign) past. Cusanit’s writing explores the historical circumstances and forces at the height of European colonialism around 1900, when European archaeology set out to excavate the origins of civilization. Cusanit’s literary project is meta-archaeological: it applies Michel Foucault’s ›archaeological‹ method and metaphor to the research practice of archaeology itself. The essay shows how Cusanit transforms Foucault’s approach – to examine certain historical discourse formations – into a poetics for her archaeological novel. As the ground of archaeological certainty erodes, both scientific theories and colonial narratives are undermined. What remains are not ›objective‹ time-transcending, but radically historical formations of a past that cannot easily be colonized in one’s own interests.