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Perspektiven arabisch-deutscher Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft
Verbal Art, Self-definition and Recent History


This chapter attempts to approach Soviet literary works that refer to, in one way or another, the topic of archaeology. The attempt unfolds in three steps. First, several particular literary works are discussed, two “geographical novels” in which the geographer Vladimir Arsen’ev recounts his travels to the Far East and tells the story of his guide Dersu Uzala, an example of a “natural man”. A special stress is put on the importance of this fact-and-fiction work; the avant-garde finds in it a new narrative pattern and at the same time it inspires a genre that becomes crucial in the system of socialist realism. We discuss then the “Master”-“native” relationship typical for this genre. Then we define the differences between symbolic roles assigned to various earth sciences in the Soviet culture: geographers controlling the present, geologists the future, and palaeontologists the past. Archaeology, in being dependent to a larger degree on the ever-changing party politics, has the most fragile position in this hierarchy. Nevertheless, the Soviet system had a use for it. In the last part of the paper, we give a brief overview and a rough typology of the literature inspired by archaeology.


This essay provides a historical perspective on the archaeologist on screen. A wide array of movies, video games, and TV shows are addressed in order to provide a comprehensive approach to this cultural figure. Building on several examples, from the birth of cinema to the new field of archaeogaming, this article delves into the various dimensions of the archaeologist as one of the most popular fictional character of all times. In addition to a close examination of the main typologies used to characterize the diverse representations of the archaeologist in popular culture, the study introduces some thoughts about the links between archaeology and the ontology of the photographic image. Closely related to the cultural logic of Western modernity, archaeology extensively nurtures the imaginary of exploration, conquest, and postcolonial encounter. Nevertheless, the analysis of a selection of non-Western films highlights the cultural hybridity of the figure of the archaeologist. Its complexity and ambivalence thus appears representative of the way power relations shaped by race, class, and gender operates through culture.