Difference in Archaeological Theory and Practise

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

The programs of processual, contextual, and symmetrical archaeology have sought to inter-relate the material and the social components of community life in various ways that either prioritise or equalise their respective roles. An alternative, however is that they are inherently non-correspondent, functioning in different ways that can be both complimentary and in conflict. This session seeks a way of approaching the material past that systematically recognises the differences between textual and archaeological sources of information and incorporates the role of the friction inherent in the social world between verbal meaning, social action and the material. A systematic inquiry is required which incorporates the principle of potential non-correspondence allowing for the possibilities both of correspondence and friction and disjunction between materiality and sociality. The aim is to approach the archaeological record as a relational phenomenon derived from potential non–correspondence between the social and the material, across many spatial and temporal scales.The session will explore theoretical issues, applications and methodological extensions of the issues of material – social dissonance. The inertia of the material, costs of maintenance, the creative effects of non-correspondence and the disjunctions between textual and archaeological sources of information are explored as crucial components of the archaeological process.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • Climate Change, Dissonance and Urban Diaspora in the Southern Maya Lowlands (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Lucero.

    In response to growing needs for dry-season water, the southern lowland Maya constructed increasingly larger and more complex reservoirs at major centers throughout the Late Classic period (550-850 C.E.). Annual rainfall replenished reservoirs and nourished rainfall-dependent crops. In exchange for access to reservoirs during the annual dry season, farmers contributed goods, services and labor to kings and their administrators. When several multiyear droughts struck between 800 and 900 C.E., the...

  • Concurrences and Discrepancies in Ancient Egypt (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Willeke Wendrich.

    Studying ancient Egypt, with its rich textual, iconographic and archaeological records, requires an interdisciplinary approach. Any research along these lines will at some point find both concurrences and discrepancies in the information. Especially the latter require further analysis, involvement of yet other sources and lead to the realization that we need to theorize the fundamentally different types of information, audiences, purposes, and sometimes cross-purposes, of the things we...

  • The Demise of Angkor: infratructural inertia and climatic instability (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dan Penny. Tegan Hall.

    The demise of Angkor and its city-region offers insights into the vulnerability of giant low-density cities to climate extremes. At Angkor, the iterative growth of massive, convoluted and intractable infrastructural networks progressively decreased the resilience of the settlement to changing circumstances by restricting or removing adaptive strategies. The nature and consequences of the water crises in Angkor between the 13th and the 16th centuries has been revealed by a combination of remote...

  • Difference in Archaeology Theory and Practice: the Case of Classical Greece (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Papadopoulos.

    The dichotomy between the "dirt" and the "word" has loomed large in the study of the Greek past, in a manner not shared by many other regions. This is true, ironically, for both the historical and prehistoric period. The interplay between the material record with the textual and the iconographic records in Greece is rich and complex, and one that extends across a broad time range. Disjunctions across these different avenues of inquiry are numerous, and often ignored. But it is precisely in these...

  • Difference in the Archaeology of Institutions (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peta Longhurst.

    Historical archaeology has recently been concerned with the study of a diverse range of institutions – of confinement, of education, of religion, of punishment, and of reform. Disjunctions between the social ideals on which these institutions were founded and the material realities permeate much of this literature, often interpreted through a framework of resistance to institutional power. Lu Ann De Cunzo (2006) has characterized institutions as trialectical spaces -simultaneously conceived,...

  • Difference Theory and the Relevance of the Archaeological Past to the Present (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rachael Lane.

    The relevance of the archaeological past to the present is not usually considered an ethical, or moral issue, except in the context of western heritage and conservation values. There appears to be both internal conditions to archaeology, as well as external conditions, that prevent the relevance and use of archaeological knowledge. The notion of relevance is frequently embedded in presentist discourses in the humanities and social sciences with an emphasis on sociality, and social recursive...

  • Difference, Non-correspondence and the Material Contexts of Sociality (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Roland Fletcher.

    Human beings use three signalling systems, words, actions and material which differ in their replication rates, the degree to which the signals persist and their magnitude. Speech replicates rapidly and transmits a signal over a small distance that last only briefly. Action in the form of positioning and gestures replicates more slowly and can carry its signal for somewhat longer. Material by contrast is replicated more slowly, sometimes very slowly. Material signals, such as the dimensions of...

  • Discourse and Dissonance in the Archaeological Archive (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Beaudry.

    A process begun afresh for each archaeological site or research project involves constructing the archive through integrating differing lines of evidence. For historical archaeologists the archive includes written records, oral traditions, and material culture; often elements of the archive provide overlapping, conflicting, or entirely different insights into the past, requiring resolution and integration because of differences in scale, completeness, representativeness, temporal resolution,...

  • Elite Ambitions, Public Works, and Political Consolidation: A Comparative View (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert Drennan. Adam Berrey. Christian Peterson.

    We are accustomed to temples, platforms, plazas, tombs, statues, fortifications, raised fields, or other large-scale constructions as archaeologically conspicuous signs of the successes of early complex societies. Archaeologists often assign major roles to such public works in creating social cohesion and extending elite power. This may be a consequence of material benefits, such as increased agricultural production or protection from attack, or it may represent the materialization of...

  • Insights from Difference: text and archaeology in Angkor (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christophe Pottier.

    The study of Angkor was predominantly the domain of epigraphers, art historians and architects for much of the past century of research. To some degree it continues to be. This focus, to its great credit, has reconstituted a millennium of the political history of Khmer society prior to the 16th-17th C CE. The effect has however, been to prioritise a historicist viewpoint, leading to the material record of the monuments being fitted in to the expectations of textual interpretation....

  • The Otherness of Objects? The Material Turn and Historical Archaeology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anders Andrén.

    The material turn in archaeology – and in humanities in general – has led to a new interest in the non-verbal and non-signifying aspects of the material world. Instead of discussing meaning of objects, issues such as longterm durance and agency of objects have come into focus. Consequently, many archaeologists have turned away from the textual metaphor to a recognition of the otherness of materiality. However, this material turn has above all taken place in a dialogue with modern ruins and...