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Shadows of pain

Chapter in book
Authors Leila Papoli-Yazdi
Published in book: Archaeologies of Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism, and Repression: Dark Modernities
Publisher Palgrave MacMillan
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Language en
Keywords Egalitarianism, archaeology under dictatorship, Iran
Subject categories Archaeology, Archaeology, Non-European, History and Archaeology


There is a great difference between working on and working under totalitarian government. For me as an archaeologist of recent past, both have happened. Evidently, I am an archaeologist working on totalitarian methods of oppression living most of my life under the tyrannical political context of Iran. To elucidate the case, I analogize the archaeologist of modernity living under a totalitarian state to be seemed like Pandora holding her box in which the stories of many sufferings have been hidden. In contrast, the brutal state may to achieve the archaeologist’s box using oppression and violence against him/her. Opening the box, literally writing or speaking about the stories kept in it in public, would increase the danger of being suppressed. In such a condition, the archaeologist would have two straight ways to choose, the first one is to ignore the brutality of the system and adopt his/her methods to work on safe topics mostly proposed and funded by the governmental institutions while the second way is to accept the penalty of being independent and pay the price of working on tyranny. It is more than a decade that I have chosen the second path. Frankly, years ago I had no clear idea how this option would change my life but today, I have a clear image of it which may be awkward. This choice has made me both the object and subject of my own researches. Here, in this chapter I am going to open my Pandora box and share with broader readers what would happen for an archaeologist of modernity under totalitarianism. I do not intend to narrate a personal story but factually, I am going to excavate my own life to present the evidences and patterns of oppression for other scholars working on or under tyranny.

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