social praktik och stumma monument: introduktion till mikroarkeologi

Cornell, Per & Fahlander, Fredrik
Department of archaeology
Gothenburg university
Gotarc serie C, no 46, Göteborg 2002, 159 pages, thesis.
ISBN 911-85952-71-0

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In recent social theory, the idea of social entities has been questioned, pointing to multivocality and the problems involved in defining social totalities. It is argued that sociocultural systems are more likely to be 'open', with fuzzy boundaries, and populated by knowledgeable heterogeneous agents. In this text, we propose an operative social theory, eliminating the need for pre-defined social entities like region, social system, culture, society, or ethnic group. The archaeological object in a micro-archaeological approach is not a closed and homogeneous social totality, nor does it seek to reach an understanding of meaning, but rather attempts to identify the structurating practices, the regulative actions operating in a field of humans and things unbound by spatial or social boundaries.  

In order to address these issues more systematically, we discuss social action, materialities and the constitution of archaeological evidence. We depart from Sartre's concept of serial action, which implies that materialities and social agency are integrated elements in the structuration process. Patterns of structurating practice can thus be, at least partially, retrieved from the fragmented material evidence studied by the archaeologist. We exemplify the applicability of the microarchaeological approach in four analytical fields: spheres of exchange, spatial structurating of landscapes, household organisation, and social aspects of corporeality.