The question of ethnicity is highly controversial in contemporary archaeology. Indigenous and nationalist claims to territory often rely on reconstructions of the past based on the identification of cultures from archaeological remains, in spite of the fact that many consider the association of remains with past ethnic groups to be hopelessly inadequate.
Sian Jones examines historical misuses of this type and argues that the archaeology of ethnicity has never really been subjected to any serious theoretical analysis. She responds to the need for a reassessment of the ways in which social groups are identified in the archaeological record with a comprehensive and critical synthesis of recent theories of ethnicity in the human sciences. In so doing, she argues for a fundamentally different view of ethnicity, as a complex dynamic form of identification, requiring radical changes in archaeological analysis and interpretation.