As McEwan argues, the past is well suited to manipulation and can
be used to uphold particular ideologies, for example those dictated
by the state. This discussion of the development of archaeology in
Ireland in the 19th century places it within an intellectual and
historical context to determine the inherent and external factors
at work in directing and influencing its progress. With Foucault as
the starting point, McEwan assesses a range of important
ideological concepts, including romanticism, nationalism,
imperialism and individualism, and asks whetehr archaeology and
those individuals within it chose to embrace or resist them.
Concluding that Ireland's past is both complex and contradictory,
she reaffirms that Irish archaeology of the 19th century was
essentially contrived to serve the people rather than always
upholding the power structure'.
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