L’éthique en archéologie, quels enjeux normatifs? Approches françaises

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Marie Cornu
Vincent Négri


The ethical issues facing archaeologists must be considered in close coordination with the legal framework governing their activity. Ethics is defined as a “set of principles and values that guide social and professional behaviour”. It can inspire both laws and professional practices, referring to duties inherent to the exercise of a specific activity. The link between ethics and law, built from these multiple sources, is therefore complex. This contribution aims to understand these multiple forms of normativities and their interactions. Several examples are particularly interesting from this point of view: that of the treatment of funerary archaeology which puts under tension the scientific interest and the principle of human dignity, sometimes also the expression of collective rights; that of scientific production and the sharing of the results and data on which they are based; that of the diligence to be observed in a context of possible looting; and also that of the articulation between scientific and heritage interest. The particular nature of the archaeological heritage, as soon as it is revealed at the moment of a discovery, will give rise to specific rules in both domestic and international law at the intersection of law and deontology, a relationship in which there could be a breach of law by deontology. These forms of internormativity are doubly manifest in the process of patrimonialization and when there is question of the appropriation of tangible elements, such as data.

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