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CALL. 24.08.2017: Human Action and Deep Time: A Return to Time and Scale in Archaeology (Society for


This session seeks to explore the importance of long-term change and continuity in human society, culture, and environment through different archaeological perspectives. Archaeological discourse has shifted in the past few decades away from addressing the causative factors of long-term change or continuity, and towards exploring human society in the “ethnographic” time, focused on relatively narrow slices of time within a particular spatial or cultural context (with only superficial reference to larger time scales). This is largely a reaction to earlier attempts to examine large-scale or long-term change, which frequently produced deterministic explanations that reduced or ignored the agency of humans, or else was unable to explain how different time scales articulated with each other.



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Washington D. C. (Washington, USA)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Thomas Hardy (University of Pennsylvania) ; Stephen Berquist (University of Toronto)

INFO: web - ;


Yet this “ethnographic” approach has its own problems, and risks relying overly on analogical reasoning to compensate for a lack of fine-grained data; it also frequently relies on reconstructing archaeological “subjects” in ways that reinscribe the divide between mind and matter, interiority and exteriority, or subject and object. It is also worth asking if this turn bears some responsibility for the perception that archaeology as a discipline lacks unique theoretical insights, as lamented in several recent publications. How can we, as archaeologists, reinstate the “deep-time” perspective as one of archaeology’s greatest contributions to broader human knowledge? How could we turn to back to the longue durée in a way that addresses why people turned away from it in the first place? What should be the actual subject of archaeological history? How do objects, landscapes, materials, and other non-human entities contribute to deep histories? And how might we make room for agency and politics (if we can) in understandings of long-term change? Contributors should explore varied theoretical approaches through rigorous evidentiary case studies, which are discussed at different spatial and temporal scales; one goal of this session is to move beyond merely recounting the culture history of a particular area over the longue durée. Time (historic or pre-historic), place, and specific phenomena are open.

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