Difference in the Archaeology of Institutions

Author(s): Peta Longhurst

Year: 2015


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, perceived and lived.

This paper explores the ways in which these disjunctions can be understood through a framework of archaeological difference. Through a consideration of a number of institutional forms, this study reflects on the extent to which De Cunzo’s trialectic can be described as a form of non-correspondence between the institutions’ sociality and materiality. What impact has the resultant friction had on the way in which institutions operated and were experienced? How might ‘difference’ inform future archaeological inquiries into the process of institutionalisation?

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Cite this Record

Difference in the Archaeology of Institutions. Peta Longhurst. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397076)