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Gerard Chouquer. Quels scenarios pour l'histoire du paysage? Orientations de recherche pour l'archeogeographie: essai.

GERARD CHOUQUER. Quels scenarios pour l'histoire du paysage? Orientations de recherche pour l'archeogeographie: essai. Preface by Bruno Latour. 406 pages, 82 colour & b&w illustrations. 2007. Coimbra & Porto: Centro de Estudos Arqueologicos das Universidades de Coimbra e Porto (CEAUCP); 978-972-9004-21-6 paperback 30 [euro] + p&p.

Gerard Chouquer, a researcher at the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Frances's government-funded research organisation), specialises in surveying Roman sites and in the archaeology of European landscapes. Influenced by the ideas of the geographer and philosopher Augustin Berque, his work is linked with that of archaeologists like Sander Van der Leeuw and Joelle Burnouf, who have renewed theoretical reflection in France on the processes of interaction between ancient societies and their natural milieu. In France Gerard Chouquer is the founder of a new discipline, which he has named archaeogeography, whose aim is to study the evolution and the transmission of the structures of occupation of landscapes.


Chouquer's new work of reference proposes a synthesis of the methods and research agenda of archaeogeography. It is difficult to summarise such a large amount of research, the fruit of 25 years of work and many instances of interdisciplinary collaboration. The book itself is organised in five main parts. The first begins with an assessment of the methods of studying space, time and landscapes, as these different categories are approached conventionally. The second part provides a more in-depth analysis, attempting to clarify the latent contents conveyed by the concepts according to which those objects of scientific knowledge constructed by archaeology are developed. In the third part, the author examines how these scientific objects are constructed through what he calls 'networks of actors'. The fourth part studies the procedures which lead to the development of truly interdisciplinary practices, unlike those consisting of a simple juxtaposition of fragments of knowledge. The fifth and final part tackles the methodologies and theorisations linked with the development of a history of the ecumene, in other words, the environments shaped by humans.

The sum total of the knowledge and the new questions raised in this volume make it an essential work not only for the archaeology of landscapes and human occupations, but also, more fundamentally, for the theoretical reflection peculiar to the discipline of archaeology itself. Indeed Gerard Chouquer's work is part of a project which seeks to the re-found the disciplines concerned with the study of the remains of the past, disciplines which are faced with a deep crisis in the interpretation of their objects of knowledge. Gerard Chouquer's way of thinking, close to that of the philosopher of the sciences Bruno Latour, deserves much wider recognition than it has at present outside France, and in particular in the English-speaking countries.


Musee d'Archeologie nationale, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France

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Author:Olivier, Laurent
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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