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Osteobiography as Local Biology

Author(s): Jo Appleby

Year: 2017

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Osteobiography is an increasingly popular approach, but one that can have the effect of producing unproblematised, individualised approaches to the life course. In this paper I wish to explore how we can create a theoretically informed osteobiography. I propose two strands to this. Firstly, rather than osteobiography being something that ‘happens to’ individuals living in a society, I suggest that it constantly emerges through inter-relations with culturally specific understandings of the person that are deeply contextualised. Secondly, I bring in the concept of ‘local biology’ to explore how, rather than tracing events that happen to bodies, osteobiography can be better conceptualised through the continual interaction of genes, environment, culture and society. This interaction shapes not just immediate responses to disease or stress, but changes the potentials of the person throughout the life-course. These ideas are explored through a consideration of the process of ageing.

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Osteobiography as Local Biology. Jo Appleby. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430644)


Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15760

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America