Add your Insight
31 March 2021
The aim of this thematic issue is to explore how current archaeology charts continuous processes of becoming and change that challenge persistent frameworks of thought, from the Marxist model of a sequence of revolutions to recent migration-driven aDNA narratives. We seek contributions exploring short- or long-term processes that disrupt progressivist frameworks. Process archaeology – a term coined by Gosden and Malafouris (2015) in a ‘Debates’ issue of World Archaeology – highlights the unique potential of the discipline to draw out the contingencies, reversals and (re-)inventions that have characterised human practice. This potential is of increasing interest as long-term patterning in archaeology is recruited in support of cross-disciplinary narratives, including responses to urgent contemporary dilemmas surrounding, for example, climate change, environmental degradation, wealth inequality, food security and health.
Process archaeology denotes the primacy of becoming over being. The being of an entity is constituted by its becoming or, to borrow Alfred North Whitehead’s original credo, ‘how an actual entity becomes constitutes what that actual entity is’ (1929, 23). Process archaeology carries a commitment to explore the modes of becoming (human and non-human). Such commitment to a process view of reality, and by extension of the archaeological record, demands that we see life and movement, not only in what is explicitly transformed, or changing, but, more importantly, in what may seem static and fixed.
We invite contributions that grapple with processes of becoming in diverse areas of human practice, from archaeologies of crafting and farming to the evolving landscape, and on any spatial or temporal scale. Also welcome are papers that revisit philosophies of process and the challenges and opportunities they pose for archaeologists.
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