Archaeological Encounters

The Role of the Speculative in Decolonial Archaeology


  • Uzma Z. Rizvi Pratt Institute



critical theory, decolonizing archaeology, epistemic critique, futurity, race, soil studies, South Asia, speculative


This article reorients archaeology’s approach to things by acknowledging the moment of the encounter with the past as one of speculation. Years of scientific claim, research design and methodology place the agentive nature of research in the hands of the archaeologist: we go to the site to find the past. However, if we acquiesce to the possibility that antiquity approaches the archaeologist (rather than vice versa), then that forces us to contend with the contemporary nature of the encounter. This article considers the efficacy, urgency, and poetics of decolonization.


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Author Biography

Uzma Z. Rizvi, Pratt Institute

Uzma Z. Rizvi is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. Her research interests include Archaeology/Anthropology; Cities; Postcolonial critique; Ancient Urbanism; Heritage Practice; Archaeological Ethics and Methodology; Collaboration; Public; Art Activism; Art and Community Development; South Asian Diaspora and Performing Arts.


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How to Cite

Rizvi, U. (2019). Archaeological Encounters: The Role of the Speculative in Decolonial Archaeology. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 6(1), 154–167.