Post-processual archaeology, which is sometimes alternately referred to as the interpretative archaeologies by its adherents, is a movement in archaeological theory that emphasizes the subjectivity of archaeological interpretations. Despite having a vague series of similarities, post-processualism consists of "very diverse strands of thought coalesced into a loose cluster of traditions". Within the post-processualist movement, a wide variety of theoretical viewpoints have been embraced, including structuralism and Neo-Marxism, as have a variety of different archaeological techniques, such as phenomenology.
The post-processual movement originated in the United Kingdom during the late 1970s and early 1980s, pioneered by archaeologists such as Ian Hodder, Daniel Miller, Christopher Tilley and Peter Ucko, who were influenced by French Marxist anthropology, postmodernism and similar trends in sociocultural anthropology. Parallel developments soon followed in the United States. Initially post-processualism was primarily a reaction to and critique of processual archaeology, a paradigm developed in the 1960s by 'New Archaeologists' such as Lewis Binford, and which had become dominant in Anglophone archaeology by the 1970s. Post-processualism was heavily critical of a key tenet of processualism, namely its assertion that archaeological interpretations could, if the scientific method was applied, come to completely objective conclusions. Post-processualists also criticized previous archaeological work for overemphasizing materialist interpretations of the past and being ethically and politically irresponsible.
In the United States, archaeologists widely see post-processualism as an accompaniment to the processual movement, while in the United Kingdom, they remain largely thought of as separate and opposing theoretical movements. In other parts of the world, post-processualism has made less of an impact on archaeological thought.