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July 29, 2014 | History

Archaeology as science fiction 1 edition

Cover of: Archaeology as science fiction | Fredrik Fahlander

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Archaeology as science fiction.
A microarchaeology of the unknown

Published 2001 by Dept. of Archaeology, Göteborg University in Göteborg .

About the Book

This treatise discusses aspects of the constitution of social identity and
social practice in prehistoric social formations. A number of epistemological
perspectives of social theory and methodology are examined in order to
develop operational strategies suitable for the particular possibilities and
constraints of the archaeological record. It is suggested that social practice,
i.e. structurative performance, is a suitable object of study as it mediates
macro theory of social formations and micro theory of individual identity and
motivation. The work departs from a social constructionist standpoint,
pointing out the possible different constitution of prehistoric social
formations as being temporally distant from contemporary formations. It is
argued that the probable existence of ‘extinct’, unknown social practices
implies that traditional anthropological and sociological theory and method
are not sufficient for archaeological studies. Prehistoric social formations
have to be considered on their own terms rather than interpreted through
cross-cultural analogies with contemporary societies. Hence the operational
strategies suggested here focus on, and seek to increase, the available
social information that can be extracted from the archaeological record,
including aspects of the local environment. It is proposed that a
microarchaeology of locales, i.e. specific analysis of the structurative
processes of a smaller time-space sector, is a promising approach to
interpret structurating principles and properties of prehistoric social
formations. The constitution of the social subject and initiation of social
practices are also discussed from various perspectives, including corporeal
and psychological aspects.

Key-words: social theory, social identity, social practice, materialities,
corporealism, constructionism, landscape.

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First Sentence

In recent decades we have witnessed an increasing interest in social theory among archaeologists. The resultant theoretical debate has certainly contributed numerous substantial developments. Nonetheless, archaeology still reveals some shortcomings in this area. For instance, most archaeologists would agree that the temporal depth of the discipline implies a special potential which is not explicitly utilised in other social sciences – that advantage has not yet been fullyexploited. There are several plausiblereasons for thisstate of affairs. One of themmay be found in thetraditionally close bond to social anthropology, lacking a recognition that anthropologists deal with largely different kinds of data. Although eachdiscipline’s main field is the interpretation of the ‘culturally other’, the two do not use the same sort of social information. Anthropology generally employs written records, behavioural studies and living informants, while archaeology primarily studies material culture as a result of social practice. Archaeological interpretations are also complex since, due to temporal depth, we must confront social formations of unknown organisation and structure. In a sense, archaeology might be reckoned as being liberated from literary sources and livinginformants, suggesting that archaeology rather should explore the possibilities of a sociology of material culture, a vital topic that just recently begun to be discussed in the social sciences. In view of the differences between archaeology and anthropology, I believe that it can be fruitful to turn to other branches of the social sciences for inspiration. My conviction is that archaeology belongs among the social sciences; it shares a common bulk of social theory, and possesses an equal potential to play an important scientific and political role in contemporary society.

Edition Notes


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ID Numbers

Open Library
Internet Archive
91 85952 53 2

History Created December 10, 2009 · 3 revisions Download catalog record: RDF / JSON

July 29, 2014 Edited by ImportBot import new book
April 28, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Linked existing covers to the work.
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