13 Transforming Archaeology, Transforming Materiality

Rosemary A. Joyce
2015 Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association  
The archaeological contribution to materiality has to date been less widely appreciated by practitioners outside the subdiscipline. This chapter argues that this is in part due to the identification of archaeological materiality with things, objects, or material culture, deriving from the twentieth-century history of Americanist archaeology in particular. While archaeologists have made important contributions to debates about the agency of objects, object biographies, and critiques of
more » ... ject dichotomies, there are specific perspectives that archaeology could contribute that derive from the nature of archaeological sites as places consisting of material traces. This article examines in depth the concept of trace as it is used in broader social theory, and as it is instantiated in archaeological materialities. It is argued that for materialities of everyday life, in particular, traces have been the most effective kinds of materialities explored by archaeologists. A thing, an object, an artifact, a piece of material culture; for all that we archaeologists specialize in finding ways to understand the referents of terms like these, we still, I would argue, are groping for ways to communicate how we know, what we know, and what we would like to know about the domain these belong to, which has come to be called materiality. Contributors to this volume move from materiality to materials, to technologies, and to things (whether artifacts or fragments), and each of these trajectories leads to a somewhat different set of debates about 2 materiality. In this chapter, I sketch out what I hope is a useful way of thinking about this terrain, moving away from the archaeological fascination with things to understanding materiality as the embodied, experiential, and dynamic medium of practice. Points of Reference Interest in materiality extends across a range of humanities and social science fields (
doi:10.1111/apaa.12064 fatcat:nfykzvkuqbbw3ep5vaedn64xye