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Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things

Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things

Ian Hodder

ISBN: 978-0-470-67212-9

May 2012, Wiley-Blackwell

264 pages

In Stock



A powerful and innovative argument that explores the complexity of the human relationship with material things, demonstrating how humans and societies are entrapped into the maintenance and sustaining of material worlds

  • Argues that the interrelationship of humans and things is a defining characteristic of human history and culture
  • Offers a nuanced argument that values the physical processes of things without succumbing to materialism
  • Discusses historical and modern examples, using evolutionary theory to show how long-standing entanglements are irreversible and increase in scale and complexity over time
  • Integrates aspects of a diverse array of contemporary theories in archaeology and related natural and biological sciences
  • Provides a critical review of many of the key contemporary perspectives from materiality, material culture studies and phenomenology to evolutionary theory, behavioral archaeology, cognitive archaeology, human behavioral ecology, Actor Network Theory and complexity theory

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Epigraph ix

List of Figures x

Acknowledgments xii

1 Thinking About Things Differently 1

Approaches to Things 1

Themes About Things 3

Things are Not Isolated 3

Things are Not Inert 4

Things Endure over Different Temporalities 5

Things Often Appear as Non-things 5

The Forgetness of Things 6

What Is a Thing? 7

Humans and Things 9

Knowing Things 10

Conclusion: The Objectness of Things 13

2 Humans Depend on Things 15

Dependence: Some Introductory Concepts 17

Forms of Dependence 17

Reflective and Non-reflective Relationships with Things 18

Going Towards and Away From Things 21

Identification and Ownership 23

Approaches to the Human Dependence On Things 27

Being There with Things 27

Material Culture and Materiality 30

Cognition and the Extended Mind 34

Conclusion: Things R Us 38

3 Things Depend on Other Things 40

Forms of Connection between Things 42

Production and Reproduction 42

Exchange 43

Use 43

Consumption 43

Discard 43

Post-deposition 44

Affordances 48

From Affordance to Dependence 51

The French School – Operational Chains 52

Behavioral Chains 54

Conclusion 58

4 Things Depend on Humans 64

Things Fall Apart 68

Behavioral Archaeology and Material Behavior 70

Behavioral Ecology 74

Human Behavioral Ecology 80

The Temporalities of Things 84

Conclusion: The Unruliness of Things 85

5 Entanglement 88

Other Approaches 89

Latour and Actor Network Theory 91

The Archaeology of Entanglement 94

The Physical Processes of Things 95

Temporalities 98

Forgetness 101

The Tautness of Entanglements 103

Types and Degrees of Entanglement 105

Cores and Peripheries of Entanglements 108

Contingency 109

Conclusion 111

6 Fittingness 113

Nested Fittingness 114

Return to Affordance 115

Coherence: Abstraction, Metaphor, Mimesis and Resonance 119

Abstraction, Metaphor and Mimesis 120

Synaesthesia 124

Resonance 125

Coherence and Resonance at Çatalhöyük 132

Conclusion 135

7 The Evolution and Persistence of Things 138

Evolutionary Approaches 139

Evolutionary Ecology (HBE) 141

Evolutionary Archaeology 142

Dual Inheritance Theory 144

Evolution and Entanglement 147

Niche Construction 149

Evolution at Çatalhöyük 151

Conclusion 156

8 Things happen … 158

The Complexity of Entanglements 159

Open, Complex and Discontinuous Entanglements 159

Unruly Things: Contingency 159

Conjunction of Temporalities 160

Catalysis: Small Things and the Emergence of Big Effects 163

Is there a Directionality to Entanglements? 167

Some Neolithic Examples 171

Macro-evolutionary Approaches 173

Why Do Entanglements Increase the Rate of Change? 174

Conclusion 177

9 Tracing the Threads 179

Tanglegrams 180

Locating Entanglements 185

Sequencing Entanglements – at Çatalhöyük 189

Sequencing Entanglements – the Origins of Agriculture

in the Middle East 195

Causality and Directionality 200

Conclusion 204

10 Conclusions 206

The Object Nature of Things 207

Too Much Stuff ? 210

Temporality and Structure 212

Power and Agency 213

To and from Formulaic Reduction 216

Things Again 218

Some Ethical Considerations 220

The Last Thing on my Mind 221

Bibliography 223

Index 245

“Entangledmay be Ian Hodder’s most theoretically ecumenical book to date. The discussion of the various current approaches being used in archaeology, anthropology, and many other disciplines makes this an extremely valuable work . . . “Hodder has written a tremendously useful addition to the literature on the relationship of people and things that deserves close reading.”  (Current Anthropology, 1 August 2013)

“Ian Hodder has written an extremely interesting, rigorously argued and intellectually adventurous book about the nature of things. . . Readers working across the social sciences and humanities, and particularly those working at the intersection of the physical and human sciences, will find the messy openness of Hodder’s book vibrant and compelling.”  (Critical Quarterly, 2 July 2013)

“Summing Up: Recommended.  Graduate students, faculty, professionals.”  (Choice, 1 May 2013)