No, we can't. Why not? Because these two approaches have fundamentally opposed epistemologies. This is a case of using scientific techniques in the service of anti-scientific research goals. In the terms I suggested in a prior post on the meaning of science in archaeology, many of the authors are employing Science-Definition-2 (use of scientific techniques from other disciplines) in opposition to Science-Definition-1 (a scientific epistemology of research). It is certainly possible for one of these approaches to appropriate aspects of the other; this is what Marcos Llobera (2012) proposes in his paper. And the GIS folks can probably learn a thing or two from the subjective landscape folks. But to truly "combine" these approaches, to find a real "middle ground," is hopeless.
Economic historian Stephen Haber (1999) has a nice discussion of issues of epistemology and ontology in history that is very relevant to archaeology. Haber discusses: “the fundamental question of all serious fields of scholarly inquiry: How would you know if you are wrong?” (p.312). He is examining the logic of works in the "new cultural history," a postmodern genre quite similar to postprocessual archaeology. Haber focuses on subjectivity and objectivity at both the epistemological and ontological levels, and his observations are directly relevant to the GIS-landscape issue:
“Knowledge can be advanced even if a discipline is ontologically subjective (informed by shared sets of values) as long as it is epistemologically objective (informed by clearly defined rules of evidence and reason that do not privilege individual experiences or beliefs that cannot be replicated). Ontological subjectivity does not mean that there is no objective world, that observation cannot be disentangled from the subjective beliefs of the observer, and that we cannot establish systematic methods to study human behavior that produce useful and replicable results. Behavior can, in fact, be objectively studied even if it is based on an intersubjective shared understanding.” (Haber 1999:315)
[Marginal comment: hard-core postmodernists would probably disagree with Haber here].
But in contrast to ontological subjectivity, which probably cannot be avoided in the human sciences, epistemological subjectivity prevents scholars from answering Haber's fundamental question: "How would you know if you are wrong?" His characterization of the subjectivist epistemology of the new cultural history fits phenomological landscape archaeology and its lighter versions as advocated in the JAMT section. These approaches show: “ambivalence about the canons of logical reasoning. Indeed, the new cultural history has elevated the lack of analytic clarity to a virtue.” (Haber 1999:315).
So the claim by various authors that melding scientific GIS analysis with anti-scientific interpretive landscape research will be difficult (Llobera 2012, and other papers) is an understatement. It is probably impossible. The equation of this chasm with differences between "quantitative and qualitative techniques" (McEwan and Millikan 2012: 492) is completely inadequate.
So why would archaeologists try to claim that a deep epistemological contrast is really only a shallow methodological contrast (qualitative/quantitative)? Perhaps by doing this, non-scientific scholars can benefit from some of the techniques provided by science (science-2 against science-1), as Llobera (2012) wants to do. Or perhaps if they look scientific enough, they can get funding from science agencies. I'm really not sure. I am not a very good abstract thinker, and I am approaching the limits of my own understanding. But I do recognize a deep epistemological divide when I see it, and no amount of seeking a "middle ground" is going to bridge the gap.
Check out Fleming's (2006) critique of the phenomenological landscape archaeology, and take a look at Steve Haber's discussion of the new cultural history.
2006 Post-Processual Landscape Archaeology: A Critique. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 16: 267-280.
1999 Anything Goes: Mexico's "New" Cultural History. Hispanic American Historical Review 79: 309-330.
2012 Life on a Pixel: Challenges in the Development of Digital Methods Within an "Interpretive" Landscape Archaeology Framework. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19: 495-509.
McEwan, Dorothy Graves and Kirsty Millican
2012 In Search of the Middle Ground: Quantitative Spatial Techniques and Experiential Theory in Archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19: 491-494.