The Common Sense of Institutions and Modalities of Happiness

Author(s): Michael Frachetti

Year: 2015


Love, money, success, purpose, identity, companionship, family, enlightenment: these 'things' and more have been proposed as measurable indexes of happiness. Recent scholarship on the theme of happiness presents it paradoxically as something seemingly tangible and sensory -- a common-sensical object of pursuit -- and something ethereal and subject to existential contemplation. Does one choose "the red pill or blue pill" (to quote the film "The Matrix"). Yet setting its existential reality aside, the topic of 'happiness' and how it manifests itself in real social context leads one to examine a compelling intersection of sociality and materiality, rendering the topic within broader institutional frameworks that can be explored archaeologically. While this paper inevitably falls short of defining happiness (either here and now or in the past), it explores happiness and its expression among prehistoric communities of Central Asia as a cross section of common-sense and institutionality, with the goal of contextualizing a number of practical and material signatures available in the archaeological record.

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Cite this Record

The Common Sense of Institutions and Modalities of Happiness. Michael Frachetti. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395770)