Alfredo González-Ruibal's research while affiliated with Spanish National Research Council and other places

Publications (70)

Article
In this article, I intend to use archaeology’s understanding of deep time and infrastructure to explore the ways in which state-making has been challenged in the Horn of Africa during the last two millennia. I will take a long-term approach to state ecology and state resistance so as to eschew the presentist bias that is all too frequent in politic...
Article
Since 1945, most fascist monuments have disappeared or been deactivated in Western Europe. There is one in Spain, however, that remains fully operative: the Valley of the Fallen. The complex, devised by the dictator Francisco Franco, celebrates the Nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), keeps the bodies of thousands of victims of...
Article
The Indian Ocean trade in the Horn of Africa during the Middle Ages has received much less attention than in other regions of the Islamic world, such as the Gulf and East Africa. The Horn is still too often represented as a void in maps showing routes and distributions of trade goods. In this article we present the results of archaeological surveys...
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Although the investigation of human rights cases often comes late, especially with regard to living relatives, the current investigations searching for victims of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and the Francoist regime that followed until the 1970s also comes now with better methods of search and identification, which would not have been availab...
Article
This special Discussion and Debate section contains an introduction to the book, Old Lands, followed by three reviews and a final reply by the author: a) A Journey to A Chorography: Christopher Witmore; b) Old Ways in Old Lands: William Caraher c) Manifesting the Infraordinary: Alfredo González-Ruibal d) This Old Land: Johanna Hanink e) Re-Groundin...
Article
The western Ethiopian borderland is remote from all centres of power in the Horn of Africa. As a result, local communities have often been regarded by scholars and state agents alike as isolated and antiquated. The picture that emerges from archaeological research, however, is more complex: borderland societies have, at different times from the mid...
Article
The critique of archaeology made from an indigenous and postcolonial perspective has been largely accepted, at least in theory, in many settler colonies, from Canada to New Zealand. In this paper, I would like to expand such critique in two ways: on the one hand, I will point out some issues that have been left unresolved; on the other hand, I will...
Article
The Dats’in are an indigenous minority group living on the Sudanese-Ethiopian borderland. They passed unnoticed to researchers, administrators and the wider world until 2013, when the authors of this paper met them in the lowlands of Qwara (NW Ethiopia). They speak an undocumented Nilo-Saharan language, related to Gumuz, and share important cultura...
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2016 fue un año crítico en la política mundial. Los cambios que se precipitaron ese año, tendrán un largo impacto en la arqueología, antropología y disciplinas relacionadas. En este texto reflexionamos sobre lo que supone la emergencia del populismo reaccionario y cómo afecta a la práctica y teoría de la arqueología. Nos centramos en tres críticas...
Article
The question of the Anthropocene has gained increased notoriety among archaeologists recently. Precisely because of that, it is in need of thorough critique. The aim of this article is not to rule out the concept of Anthropocene, but to point out some of its problems: the relationship of Anthropocenic discourses with the emergence of an all-embraci...
Article
Ethics has abandoned its niche status to become a shared concern across archaeology. The appraisal of the sociopolitical context of archaeological practice since the 1980s has forced the discipline to take issue with the expanding array of ethical questions raised by work with living people. Thus, the original foci on the archaeological record, con...
Article
Gathering places play a paramount role among pastoralists. Markets, sanctuaries, graves and watering places are foci of ritual, economic and social activity. They facilitate inter and intragroup relations, including trade, marriage arrangements, political alliances, conflict resolution ceremonies, the dispersal of news and religious activities. In...
Article
From Brazil to the United Kingdom, 2016 was a critical year in global politics. Heritage, ethics and the way that archaeologists relate to the public were and will all be affected, and it is time to reflect critically on the phenomenon of ‘reactionary populism’ and how it affects the practice and theory of archaeology. ‘Reactionary populism’ can be...
Article
We thank all of the commentators for raising crucial points that provide us with the opportunity to make important clarifications. Bernbeck and Pollock point out that in our work, only the people of the present matter, rather than those in the past. Although our discussion centres on living people, we also believe that the past is unfinished and th...
Article
In this article, the concepts of ethnoarchaeology and archaeological ethnography are discussed. In the author's opinion, both are problematic, the former because of its emphasis on analogy, the second because it is scarcely archaeological (in the sense of the study of material culture). If we reject analogy as the main foundation of ethnoarcaheolog...
Article
The Sudanese-Ethiopian borderland has seen interaction between state and non-state peoples for at least two millennia. However, little is known about these interactions from an archaeological point of view. Our research project intends to cast light on this topic by looking at the lowlands of NW Ethiopia. Surveys conducted during three field season...
Chapter
The Spanish Civil War is remembered in many ways. Vehicles of memory are often material and include ruins, monuments and museums, which are all amenable to archaeological scrutiny. In the present chapter, I am particularly interested in museums. Unlike in other countries, Spain has consistently failed to have proper museums of the conflict managed...
Article
Somaliland was a key region in the trade routes connecting the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean from antiquity to the nineteenth century. However, little archaeological work on this topic has been carried out in the region to date. A new project by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) intends not only to assess the role o...
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House societies have become popular with archaeologists in recent years, due to (among other things) their conspicuous material basis (wealth, heirlooms and the houses themselves). As yet, however, most archaeological studies have focused only on individual societies. In this article, we offer a comparative and long-term approach to the phenomenon,...
Article
Over the last few decades the number of radiocarbon dates available for West Central Africa has increased substantially, even though it is still meagre compared with other areas of the continent. In order to contribute to a better understanding of the Iron Age of this area we present and analyze a total of 22 radiocarbon dates obtained from sites f...
Article
In this article an archaeological critique of the time of modernity is proposed. This critique is developed through three main themes: materiality, multi-temporality, and ethics. Materiality is key to producing relevant archaeological accounts of the time of modernity: historical archaeology has to follow the time of things, rather than the tempora...
Article
In this comment I argue that ethnoarchaeology is not the only means for an archaeological engagement with living traditional communities. I suggest that some practices can be better labelled ‘archaeology of the present’, due to their lack of interest in providing analogical frameworks of inspiration for archaeology. Instead, the archaeology of the...
Chapter
This chapter explores the archaeological record left by the coloniality of power on the islands of the Muni estuary in Equatorial Guinea between the late eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. From 1777, this tiny country in west-central Africa was nominally a Spanish colony, but it was not truly colonized until the 1880s. However, colonial intera...
Article
Working in conflict and post-conflict environments presents a number of distinctive challenges for archaeologists. Elements of archaeological practice that are usually thought of as reasonably routine (such as safety), can become extremely problematic. Meanwhile the aspects of archaeological work that are generally understood to be problematic, suc...
Article
The archaeology of modern conflict is almost always controversial and places archaeologists and anthropologists before unique ethical dilemmas. These dilemmas manifest themselves clearly in the relationship between researchers and a variety of social actors and stakeholders (victims, relatives, grassroots associations, military enthusiasts, authori...
Chapter
In this chapter, I explore the long-term effects of global capitalism in a small region of Central Africa from an archaeological point of view. The region in question is the Muni Estuary, in Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, where a multidisciplinary research project has been carried out between 2009 and 2012 by the Spanish National Resea...
Article
This interview with Victor Buchli and Gavin Lucas was undertaken over email during the Summer / Autumn of 2013 and coordinated by Alfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal on behalf of the editorial team: Alfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal, Rodney Harrison, Cornelius Holtorf and Laurie Wilkie. An initial set of questions was drafted and agreed amongst members of the editorial...
Article
The dual model of foragers versus producers is increasingly perceived as inadequate for understanding the complexities of subsistence practices in the past and in the present. A wide spectrum of in-between strategies, falling under the label 'low-level food production' (Smith 2001), has been pointed out. Africa has, however, remained mostly outside...
Article
The Turco-Egyptian conquest of Sudan in 1820-1 was a tragic turning point in the history of the peripheral regions of the Ethiopian and Sudanese states. With the commencement of Turco-Egyptian overrule, the indigenous peoples of Benishangul, Gambela, Bahr al- Jabal, and Bahr al-Ghazal became integrated into a wider political-economic order in which...
Article
In this article, we present the results of the 2011 field season at the Iron Age burial site of Nandá, on the Island of Corisco, located between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The excavations followed a survey conducted in 2009, which evinced the extraordinary interest of the site and suggested its funerary nature. The excavations documented three le...
Article
The author explores responses to political violence through the materiality of three aspects of the Civil War in Spain: military lines in the battle forMadrid, a concentration camp in Extremadura and a remote settlement of forced labourers and their families. He shows how archaeology's revelations reflect, qualify and enrich the story of human surv...
Article
During a survey undertaken on the Island of Corisco, also known as Mandji (Equatorial Guinea), in 2009, several sites of the Early and Late Iron Age were recorded. The most spectacular discoveries are three burial sites, the largest of which has yielded several intact tombs with many artefacts (axes, spears, anklets, bracelets, complete pots) radio...
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The archaeology of twentieth-century warfare, with its focus on Western armies and military issues, has often neglected indigenous experiences of war and social aspects, particularly the role of women in reproducing culture through material practices in situations of great distress. In this article, we propose a postcolonial examination of imperial...
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The Awá are a group of hunter–gatherers in transition to agriculture living in the Brazilian Amazon forest. After contact with mainstream society from the 1970s onwards, their culture, and especially their material culture, has undergone important transformations. Many traditional technologies and artifacts have been lost, especially those related...
Article
Despite the relevance of material culture in the politics and culture of Italian Fascism (1922–45), this phenomenon has rarely been approached from an archaeological point of view. In this article, I argue that archaeology can provide new insights into the study of this particular version of totalitarianism. I will show the connections that an arch...
Article
In this article we look at the destruction of the Amazon forest through an archaeological lens. We describe the devastation brought about by illegal loggers and ranchers to the last remaining old-growth forests of Maranhão (NE Brazil), where the Awá hunter-gatherers live. We argue that archaeology can provide an alternative and more critical look a...
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The Department of Prehistory of the Complutense University of Madrid has been conducting archaeological and ethnoarchaeological research in western Ethiopia since 2001. Between 2001 and 2007 research focused on Benishangul- Gumuz Regional State. This region hosts a diverse population of Nilo-Saharan communities, including Bertha, Gumuz and Koman pe...
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The Iron Age hillfort of Montealegre, in the Atlantic coast of Galicia (NW Spain), has yielded an interesting array of Mediterranean imports during the last excavations (2003-2004). These imports span mainly from the mid-2nd c. BC to the early 1st c. AD. The late Punic and early Roman trade in the northwest of Iberia was until now scarcely known, u...
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In this paper, the results of the test excavations in two rock shelters in the Central Ethiopian escarpment near the Sudanese border are presented. A continuous sequence of quartz lithic industry, from the lowest levels of K'aaba (with an archaic MSA-like industry of side-scrapers, Levallois-discoidcores and unifacial points) to the upper levels of...
Article
This paper arises from a dissatisfaction with the ‘Great Divides’ created between past and present, self and others, people and material culture in the context of ethnoarchaeology. While conducting ethnoarchaeological research in Spain, Ethiopia and Brazil, I have been faced with the theoretical and practical shortcomings of this field, which is to...
Article
Modernity is central to the concept of archaeology. It is not only part and parcel of the modern project, but it also throws light on the constitution of modernity itself. Although archaeologists usually reveal the higher degrees of oppression and alienation brought by the modern world, they consider that modernity is, in the first place, a product...
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Whereas the Punic presence in the Mediterranean is well-known and there is a large literature dealing the politics, economy and culture of the Punic colonies and factories, the Phoenician and Punic presence in the Atlantic has received very little attention until recently. In this article, it is argued that, by adopting a post-colonial perspective...
Article
The idea that houses and territories can be alternative systems for structuring society is undermining the traditional belief that lineages, clans and other systems based on kinship ties were the only conceivable principle of social organization in traditional communities. The concept of société à maison (house society) developed by Lévi-Strauss is...
Article
The structuring of domestic space among the Bertha people of the Sudanese-Ethiopian borderland is described. The Bertha are one of the largest Nilo-Saharan groups currently living in Ethiopia, and they stretch out further west into Sudan. The overwhelming majority of the population lives in traditional round houses made with bamboo and straw. Despi...
Article
Between the late 19th century and the 1960s hundreds of thousands of people emigrated from Galicia to America and Europe. From the 1970s onwards many of these emigrants returned to their homeland and with them came a sense of shame for their old pre-modern peasant identity. In this article, the relationship between former emigrants and their houses...
Article
  Despite the marginality of the region, the Later Bronze Age and Iron Age communities of the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula were engaged in active relationships with both Atlantic and Mediterranean peoples. Unlike other Atlantic regions, the area maintained direct contacts both with Mediterranean sailors and with the communities of the Britis...
Article
The Iron Age art of northwestern Iberia (the ancient Gallaecia) is scarcely known by scholars outside Spain and Portugal, due to the local character of most publications dealing with this topic. This has deprived archaeologists of the knowledge of an original culture, whose artistic expressions owe as much to the Mediterranean world as to the Atlan...

Citations

... Forensic sciences have been consolidated as fundamental tools to the identification of victims of forced disappearance through document analysis, bone remnants, and genetic material, which has enabled access to the truth, justice, and historical reparations [1,2]. ...
... The Gumuz inhabit the present borderland between Sudan and Ethiopia, where they have lived since at least the fifteenth century AD according to historical sources, although it is likely that they inhabited the area already in antiquity (González-Ruibal 2014, 93-4). Through different strategies of resistance, these groups have, to different degrees, managed to avoid their full incorporation into the State (González-Ruibal 2014;James 2016;Jedrej 2006). Heavily racialized and discriminated againstdescribed as evil black and wild animals (González-Ruibal 2014, 91-2)-the Gumuz have been raided and enslaved for centuries by their neighbours (Ahmad 1989;Taddesse Tamrat 1988). ...
... Y también entrenar a uno de los hijos en ebanistería, haciendo luego bancos y demás enseres para la iglesia. He revisado los trabajos sobre multivocalidad con los comentarios al artículo en debate sobre González-Ruibal et al. 2021, y me pareció que el de Acuto (2019) es el más cercano a nuestros planteos. ...
... Another major instance of the diachronicity argument comes from archaeology. Archaeological research has been especially involved in underscoring the seemingly diachronous nature of the Anthropocene as a geological unit (Braje, 2016;Edgeworth, 2014a;Edgeworth et al., 2019;Edgeworth et al., 2015;González-Ruibal, 2018;Periman, 2006;Pétursdóttir, 2017). Archaeology (especially archaeological stratigraphy) and geology share an early history and practices, but increasing specialization of both disciplines led to a separation in their object of study -archaeology dealing with shallow deposits and time depths, and geology dealing with the underlying rocks in a time frame of a much greater order of magnitude. ...
... Para abordar el análisis zooarqueológico de Punta Teatinos, es necesario comprender previamente el potencial de este registro no sólo en términos económicos, sino también tecnológico en cuanto al uso de sus pieles, huesos, y otros elementos para la confección de artefactos, y las causas ecológicas y culturales que motivan las capturas y consumo de algunas especies por sobre otras. Para acercarnos a dichos escenarios, la analogía etnográfica es utilizada de manera recurrente en arqueología para distintas corrientes teóricas (David y Kramer 2001, González-Ruibal 2017. Para nuestro caso, el diálogo entre datos etnográficos y arqueológicos se concentra en dos grupos taxonómicos abundantes en Punta Teatinos: aves y pinnípedos, aunque también exploraremos el caso de micromamíferos como roedores. ...
... Archaeological ethics have traditionally focused on justifying our existence-calling out the sale of artifacts, destruction of sites, and the public focus often centered on creation of publications that too often are directed at our own colleagues, and the public aspects being relegated to interpretations derived from academic questions not the needs of the public. What this volume pushes is ethics surrounding meeting the needs of communities-once instituted, this would result in a more careful consideration of methods to ensure communities' needs were prioritized (González-Ruibal, 2018). ...
... In the 19th century, Zeila, Berbera, Heis, Meit and Bulhar were export-import ports in the northern Somali territories (now Somaliland) (Pankhurst, 1965;. The ports were major meeting points for pastoralists, merchants, sailors, and caravanners (González-Ruibal & de Torres, 2018) and gateways that connected the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Pankhurst (1965) reported that between 1875 and 1876, livestock exported from Berbera to Aden was 65,000 sheep and goats and 1,100 cattle. ...
... For this purpose, what is intended is to record, maintain and reinforce social heterogeneity inside these processes of cultural standardisation, not only giving voice to the subaltern, because our positions are not more legitimate than others, but promoting, mediating and participating in the process as one more situated voice, when necessary. All that we can talk about and teach is what we can learn by observing and researching inside the process [34]. ...
... They tie into the broader questions of the value of caring for culture, cultural knowledge, and the growing tendency to frame scientific and scholarly knowledge and knowing as political issues both in general (Stehr, 2015) and in archaeology (e.g. González-Ruibal, 2016;González-Ruibal, González, & Criado-Boado, 2018;Hamilakis, 2018) beyond the mere political use of science and scholarship, or archaeology and archaeological knowledge (see e.g. Boytner, Dodd, & Parker, 2010). ...
... The archaeological study of medieval-period ceramics from the Christian Ethiopian highlands has been limited, although recent projects have begun to rectify this omission (e.g., Chuniaud, 2012;de Torres Rodríguez, 2017;Fernández et al., 2017;González-Ruibal & Falquina, 2017). Many of the sites largely post-date the occupation of Harlaa. ...