The Techno-politics of Water and Iron: Resource Materialities in South Indian (Pre)History

Author(s): Andrew Bauer; Peter Johansen

Year: 2015


Water management and iron production were two socio-material practices deeply entangled with the politics of emerging social distinctions during the South Indian Iron Age. Beginning with small well-distributed modified rock pools and systematically dispersed iron-smithing facilities, Iron Age social actors laid specific claims to the materials, places and technologies of water management and iron production. This created and maintained a constellation of social differences and affiliations. Stepping back from a political economy of resource production, however, our interest here is with the dynamics of relational resource assemblages (e.g., materials, practices, infrastructures, knowledge) and their historical and ecological constitution. Here we investigate how the ‘distributedness’ of these assemblages both enables and constrains social and ecological conditions. In doing so we interrogate the interwoven relationship between the politics of resource production and the materiality of process, exposing a techno-politics that is uniquely disposed to this region’s ecology and history. We begin with the earliest archaeological evidence of water management and iron production during the South Indian Iron Age and end in the ethnographic present exploring how shifting orientations of assemblage components affect the value, meaning and experience of water and iron production, technology and consumption.

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Cite this Record

The Techno-politics of Water and Iron: Resource Materialities in South Indian (Pre)History. Peter Johansen, Andrew Bauer. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396776)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 59.678; min lat: 4.916 ; max long: 92.197; max lat: 37.3 ;