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Archaeologies of Materiality

Lynn Meskell (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-3616-7
240 pages
December 2005, Wiley-Blackwell
Archaeologies of Materiality (1405136162) cover image
Drawing on social theory and offering numerous case studies, Archaeologies of Materiality is one of the first books to explore materiality across time and space.

  • Demonstrates the saliency of materiality by linking it to concepts of landscape, technology, embodiment, ritual, and heritage.
  • Offers archaeological case studies ranging from prehistoric to contemporary contexts, from Neo-Assyria, South Africa, Argentina, Panama, and the United States.
  • Explores the idea of a material universe that is socially conceived and constructed, but that also shapes human experience in daily practice.
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List of Figures.

Acknowledgments.

Notes on Contributors.

1. Introduction: Object Orientations: Lynn Meskell.

2. Mastering Matters: Magical Sense and the Apotropaic Figure Worlds: Carolyn Nakamura.

3. The Social life of Rocks: Lindsay Weiss.

4. With a Hint of Paris in the Mouth: Fetishized Toothbrushes or the Sensuous Experience of Modernity in Late 19th-Century Bogota: Felipe Gaitan.

5. Faith in Objects: American Indian Object Lessons at the World in Boston: Erin Hasinoff.

6. The Texture of Things: Objects, People, and Social Spaces in Argentine Prehistory: Marisa Lazzari.

7. Building an Architecture of Power: Electricity in Annapolis, Maryland: Matt Palus.

8. Materiality vs. the Volcano: The Hitherto Unthinkable Wildness of the Volcan Baru, Panama: Karen Holmberg.

Afterword: Daniel Miller.

Index
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Lynn Meskell (Ph.D. University of Cambridge) is Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University. She is the founding editor of the Journal of Social Archaeology and has published numerous articles and books including Archaeology under Fire (ed. 1998), Archaeologies of Social Life (Blackwell 1999), Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt (2001), Embodied Lives: Figuring Ancient Maya and Egyptian Experience (with Rosemary Joyce, 2003), Object Worlds in Ancient Egypt: Material Biographies Past and Present (2004), Companion to Social Archaeology (ed. with Robert Preucel, Blackwell 2004), and Embedding Ethics (ed. with Peter Pels, 2005).
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  • Explores the philosophies that underpin materiality.
  • Demonstrates the saliency of materiality by linking it to concepts of landscape, technology, embodiment, ritual, and heritage.
  • Offers archaeological case studies ranging from prehistoric to contemporary contexts, from Neo-Assyria, South Africa, Argentina, Panama, and the United States.
  • Explores the idea of a material universe that is socially conceived and constructed, but that also shapes human experience in daily practice.
See More
“This fascinating and path-breaking volume addresses the most profound conceptual problems raised by the sheer materiality of things. It opens up important new conversations among archaeologists, socio-cultural anthropologists, and social theorists of all sorts.”
Webb Keane, University of Michigan


“This collection is not only a great pleasure to read, but will impress all scholars interested in material culture with its multidisciplinary maturity.”
Peter Pels, Leiden University

“This volume forces us to bring into focus our supposedly transparent ‘materialism’ and recognize that the ‘things’ we use to ‘know a people’ elude our classic taxonomies and trouble our social theoretical categories. Calling into question a simple dichotomy of objects as ‘purely functional or deeply symbolic’ this volume helps us understand how ‘materiality is problematic not only for our classical versions of material determinism but equally for many of our ‘new’ and ‘post’ theories of signification.”
Cambridge Archaeological Journal

“This book crosses boundaries between anthropology, material culture studies, and archaeology, in an attempt to strengthen a burgeoning movement toward looking at archaeological materials through the lens of materiality... it would be appropriate reading for all archaeologists interested in further exploring the relationships between social concepts and material culture.”
Canadian journal of Archaeology

“Readers less interested in specific approach to materiality will find value in the various reflections on the subject and practice of archaeology in this volume.”
American Antiquity

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