Far from Equilibrium: An Archaeology of Energy, Life and Humanity: A Response to the Archaeology of John C. Barrett [Hardback]

Michael J. Boyd (Editor); Roger C.P. Doonan (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789256031 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2021 | Language: English 352p, H240 x W170 (mm) B/w

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Far from Equilibrium: An Archaeology of Energy, Life and Humanity


Archaeology is in crisis. Spatial turns, material turns and the ontological turn have directed the discipline away from its hard-won battle to ­ find humanity in the past. Meanwhile, popularised science, camouflaged as archaeology, produces shock headlines built on ancient DNA analyses that reduce humanity’s most intriguing historical problems to ‘just-so stories’. Today archaeology ­finds itself less able than ever to proclaim its relevance to the modern world.

This volume foregrounds the relevance of the scholarship of John C. Barrett to this crisis. Twenty-four writers representing three generations of archaeologists scrutinise the current turmoil in the discipline and highlight the resolutions that may be found through Barrett’s analytical framework. Topics include archaeology and the senses, the continuing problem of the archaeological record, practice, discourse and agency, reorienting archaeological field practice, the question of different expressions of human diversity and material ecologies. Understanding archaeology as both a universal and highly specific discipline, case studies range from the Aegean to Orkney, and encompass Anatolia, Korea, Romania, the United Kingdom and the very nature of the Universe itself. This critical examination of John Barrett’s contribution to archaeology is simultaneously a response to his urgent call to arms to reorient archaeology in the service of humanity.

Table of Contents

List of contributors
List of tables
List of figures
The archaeology of John C. Barrett  
1. (Re)placing humanity? Responses to the crisis in archaeology
Michael J. Boyd and Roger C.P. Doonan  
2. Bibliography of John C. Barrett
Prehistory in transition  
3. The late Neolithic midden in Orkney: decay, assemblages and the efficacy of unwanted things
Jane Downes and Colin Richards  
4. In what way is one dead for an Eneolithic tell community? The construction of the dead body’s presence at Căscioarele-Ostrovel (Romania)
Alexandra Ion  
5. Conceptualising wealth and value in the Bronze Age
Christopher Tilley  
6. An assemblage of Early Bronze Age metalwork from the Scottish Highlands: Dail na Caraidh in retrospect
Richard Bradley
Fields of discourse and an archaeology of inhabitation
7. ‘Contextual archaeology’ revisited: reflections on archaeology, assemblages and semiotics
Zoë Crossland
8. Making the past human: history, archaeology and myth
Martial Staub  
9. What future for archaeology’s past?
Krysti Damilati and Giorgos Vavouranakis
10. Fragments from Minoan Crete: social practice at the EM IIA–MM IB (2650–1875 BCE) Court Building at Knossos
Ilse Schoep
11. Cemeteries of discourse: re-inhabiting a social arena
Mark S. Peters
12. Towards an ‘archaeology of the conditions of possibility’
Ilhong Ko
13. ‘Fields of discourse’ revisited: a Simondonian perspective
Despina Catapoti and Maria Relaki
Practice and record
14. ‘Ode to a treethrow’ and other reflexive thoughts: multivocal engagements at Heathrow airport
Catriona Gibson
15.   Project design and implementation: reflections on Framework
Michael J. Boyd with Colin Renfrew
16.   From fields of discourse to fields of sensoriality: rethinking the archaeological record
Yannis Hamilakis
17. Critical discourse and creative labours: learning and teaching archaeology with John C. Barrett
Brian Boyd
Material ecologies and forms of humanness
18. Bio-socio-material entanglements: archaeology and the extended evolutionary synthesis
Ian Hodder
19. To love is to nourish: a thermodynamic perspective on practice and perception
Roger C.P. Doonan
20. Is the universe sentient? What implications might this have for archaeology?
Chris Gosden and Mark PollardPerspective
21. Agency and life
Andrew Meirion Jones

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