Personhood and the Body

Chris Fowler

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Personhood and the Body


This article explores religious beliefs about personhood and religious practices relating to those beliefs. The first part focuses on concepts of the person, particularly the constitution of the person. The second part examines the role of embodied ritual action in generating and transforming persons according to cosmological principles and within a religious framework. Examples are selected from ethnographic, historical, and archaeological sources. Until recently there has been relatively little research on personhood in archaeology and little of that explicitly addresses religious beliefs and practices. Although it discusses some important archaeological work, the article highlights areas of enquiry which could be pursued in future archaeological studies much more than it summarizes a tradition of archaeological research, and is more for archaeologists interested in personhood, ritual, and religion than it is about the work of previous archaeologists.

Keywords: religious beliefs; religious practices; person; ritual; cosmological principles; archaeology

Article.  9875 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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