When political geography changes, how do reorganized or newly formed states justify their rule and create a sense of shared history for their people? Often, the essays in "Selective Remembrances" reveal, they turn to archaeology, employing the field and its findings to develop nationalistic feelings and forge legitimate distinctive national identities. Examining such relatively new or reconfigured nation-states as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, India, and Thailand, "Selective Remembrances" shows how states invoke the remote past to extol the glories of specific peoples or prove claims to ancestral homelands. Religion has long played a key role in such efforts, and the contributors take care to demonstrate the tendency of many people, including archaeologists themselves, to view the world through a religious lens - which can be exploited by new regimes to suppress objective study of the past and justify contemporary political actions. The wide geographic and intellectual range of the essays in "Selective Remembrances" will make it a seminal text for archaeologists and historians.
Philip L. Kohl is professor of anthropology and the Davis Professor of Slavic Studies at Wellesley College. Mara Kozelsky is assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama. Nachman Ben-Yehuda is professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.