Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of “anarchist archaeologies” drawing on various threads and perspectives to challenge established theory and practice within the discipline. In this talk, I reflect on the brief history of this emerging tradition. Anarchist archaeologies share some common threads including challenging established hierarchies in the past and present, reframing the discipline towards more egalitarian structures, and an opening up of alternative narratives for understanding the past. They emphasise that rather than representing chaos and violence, anarchist societies maintained unique forms of social order without resorting to the arbitrary force of the state. There are also points of divergence within anarchist archaeology, both intellectually and in terms of levels of engagement with anarchist movements both inside and outside of the academy. In reflecting on the development of my own perspective in these discussions, I will discuss the ways that my experiences in the “non-state spaces” of Island Melanesia, specifically Vanuatu, have shaped my ideas about anarchic life in the past and present.

About the presenter

James L. Flexner is senior lecturer in historical archaeology and heritage at the University of Sydney. His interests include historical archaeology, landscape archaeology, the Oceanic region, and how to build a better world for human beings to live in.

He is a co-editor (with Victoria Rawlings and Lynette Riley) of a book titled Community-Led Research: Walking New Pathways Together that will be published with Sydney University Press in 2021.


For those who will be attending in person on campus, please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events.  You will be asked to check in via QR code as a condition of entry. Those who are feeling unwell, who have travelled in from overseas or a Covid-19 hotspot in the last 14 days or have been in contact with Covid-19 positive persons, are asked not to attend the seminar. Hand sanitizers will be provided for attendee use at venue​.

For Working Papers enquiries, contact: j.kariwiga@uq.edu.au


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.