Materiality and Embodiment

Zoë Crossland

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Materiality and Embodiment

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The ideas of materiality and embodiment are explored in this article. It considers the contribution of archaeology to the interdisciplinary study of materiality and embodiment, focusing especially on the emergence of the archaeology of the body since the late 1980s. Human bodies have been a focus of archaeological study for a long time, with two divergent modes of analysis. What follows in this article is a review of some of the ways in which archaeologists have attempted to overcome these disciplinary limitations, by deploying a range of anti-foundationalist perspectives to theorize the embodied agency of past people. It further explores how questions of materiality have entered into the debates around embodiment. Finally this article presents two case studies. The first considers the use of apotropaic devices in seventeenth-century England, and the second looks at how the agency of the dead body is portrayed in discourse around contemporary forensic archaeology. An analysis of relations after death in forensic archaeology concludes this article.

Keywords: materiality; embodiment; archaeology; apotropaic devices; forensic archaeology; embodied agency

Article.  8692 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology

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