Technology and Power
Call for Papers
Deadline: 12 June 2020
Almost from its inception, archaeology has been deeply concerned with the human relationship with technology. It has long been recognised that control over technology and the means of production are important in the maintenance of power systems, and that symbolic factors can be significant in the trajectory of technological systems. In the past 20-30 years, agency and technological choice have also been emphasised. Harnessing the potential social powers of technology can be achieved through control over – or restriction of access to – technological knowledge and skill, resources, and infrastructure; often implicitly, through the maintenance and performance of social norms. Moments of technological change – a frequent focus of archaeological studies – may expose these structures at the very point at which they are most rapidly changing form, creating interpretive challenges that require robust theorisation. This issue explores how recent theoretical and methodological developments in archaeology can shed new light on our understanding of the relationship between technology, and different types of power.
This issue is not restricted to examinations of political power or vertical status differentiation. The study of gender and technology exposes the less travelled social axes of power relations, and (as noted by Dobres) explores technological practice at the micro- as well as the macroscale. Queering approaches can serve to critically examine reductive and dualistic assumptions, and offer alternative explanations for the interpretation of archaeological evidence. Papers seeking to advance our theoretical and methodological frameworks are particularly welcome, as are those utilising cutting-edge scientific techniques. Topics might include: landscapes of power, craft specialisation, technology and gender, craftsperson identity, queering technology, industrial archaeology and deindustrialisation, childhood and apprenticeship, water and power, the archaeology of capitalism, disability and ableism, technological innovation and status differentiation, and the environmental effects of technological development.