Representation and Meaning in Archaeology
Call for Papers
Deadline: 1 October 2020
Series Editors: Edward Swenson and Craig N. Cipolla
Hodder’s call that archaeologists should examine “meaningfully constituted worlds” appealed to a generation of post-processual archaeologists embracing hermeneutic methodologies. However, meaning defies easy definition and has become increasingly marginalized in recent relational and object-centered approaches that challenge archaeologists to “decenter” the human and to “attend” to the qualities of materials. These new approaches spurn the symbolic and representational. Indeed, archaeologists have increasingly adopted such perspectives in their efforts to deliver archaeology from postmodern indeterminacy, the tyranny of representation, and social constructivism. Nevertheless, approaches that foreground relational ontologies, actor-networks, extended minds, and symmetrical archaeologies often lose sight of political struggles and the fundamental importance of ideology and “meaning” (philosophy, ethics, cosmology, etc.) in social life.
The articles in this issue will explore different theories that attempt to reconcile materialist and representational viewpoints as well as phenomenological and symbolic approaches in the interpretation of historical process. We invite authors to revisit how archaeologists can best reconstruct past beliefs, discourses, ideologies, and subjectivities by combining semiotic perspectives with the insights of object-oriented approaches, the ontological turn, and assemblage theory.
In recognizing the inherent materiality of signs, the papers in this issue will debate how semiotic analyses of archaeological remains can advance understanding of a wide array of issues, ranging from the changing political agency of landscapes and things to the ideological processes assembling distinct social collectives. In the end, we seek papers that mobilise archaeological case studies to explore how representations, assembled in language, texts, bodies, things, and spectacles, “made present” distinctive worlds and histories.