Semantic Apparatus – Theory adrift: The matter of archaeological theorizing

Cited by Lee Sonogan

Archaeological theory - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

Abstract by Þóra Pétursdóttir, Bjørnar Olsen

At a possible transition towards a ‘flat’, post-human or new-materialist environment, many have suggested that archaeological theory and theorizing is changing course; turning to metaphysics; leaning towards the sciences; or, even is declared dead. Resonating with these concerns, and drawing on our fieldwork on a northern driftwood beach, this article suggests the need to rethink fundamental notions of what theory is – its morphological being – and how it behaves and takes form. Like drift matter on an Arctic shore, theories are adrift. They are not natives of any particular territory, but nomads in a mixed world. While they are themselves of certain weight and figure, it matters what things they bump into, become entangled with, and moved by. Based on this, we argue that theories come unfinished and fragile. Much like things stranding on a beach they don’t simply ‘add up’ but can become detached, fragmented, turned and transfigured. Rather than seeing this drift as rendering them redundant and out of place, it is this nomadism and ‘weakness’ that sustains them and keeps them alive.

Publication: Journal of Social Archaeology (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

Pub Date: Nov 10, 2017 Doi:

Keywords: Archaeological theory, theory building, morphology of theory, object-oriented philosophy, epistemology, ontology (Plenty more sections and references in this research article)

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