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Historical Archaeologies of Cognition

by James Symonds

Historical Archaeologies of Cognition Synopsis

This collection of essays draws inspiration from the late James Deetz's In Small Things Forgotten (1977). Deetz's seminal work broke new ground by using structuralist theory to show how artefacts reflected the 'worldviews' or ideologies of their makers and users, and went on to claim that the American colonial world had been structured according to a British intellectual blueprint, the so-called 'Georgian Order'. Thirty years on, this influential thesis has been substantially revised by more recent scholarship, but Deetz's central premise, that the systematic study of mundane material objects such as tombstones, architecture, and furniture, can render palpable the intangible aspects of human cognition and belief systems, has become a fundamental tenet of modern historical archaeology. Drawing upon James Deetz's insight that everyday objects from the recent past are freighted with social significance, and that material culture operates alongside language as a system of communication, the authors present a series of case studies which unravel specific cultural moments in well-documented historical periods across the modern world. The very best historical archaeologies create intimate material histories that expose constructions of race, class, gender, and have the capacity to challenge taken-for-granted knowledge and received political histories. The studies in this volume range in date from the early 17th century to the late 20th century and are unified by the way in which they employ theory from archaeology and anthropology to elucidate the complex links between human thought and action. The authors in this volume make a significant contribution to archaeological knowledge through their ability to move beyond simple materialities to create interesting human stories that transcend purely descriptive show-and-tell accounts of archaeological sites. Chapters by international scholars from North America, Europe, and Australia demonstrate the vitality of their approaches to historical archaeology through a series of compelling case studies. For the first time to an Anglophone audience this volume presents the latest research from Finland and Spain.

Book Information

ISBN: 9781845535346
Publication date: 15th September 2013
Author: James Symonds
Publisher: Equinox Publishing Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 208 pages
Categories: Archaeological theory,

About James Symonds

James Symonds is YAT Fellow in Historical Archaeology at the University of York. Anna Badcock is Regional Director of Strategy and Development at ArcHeritage in Sheffield. Jeff Oliver is Lecturer of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen.

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