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Title: Assemblages and scale in archaeology
Authors: Harris, Oliver J. T.
First Published: 11-Jan-2017
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP) for McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Citation: Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 2017, 27(1), pp. 127-139
Abstract: The growing interest in assemblages has already opened up a number of important lines of enquiry in archaeology from the morphogenetic capacities of matter through to a rethinking of the concept of community. In this paper I want to explore how assemblages allow us to reconceptualise the critical issue of scale. Archaeologists have vacillated between expending energy on the ‘great processes’ of change like the evolution of humanity, the colonisation of the globe or the origins of agriculture, and focussing on the momentary, fleeting nature of a small-scale ethnographic present. Where archaeologists have attempted to integrate different scales the result has usually been to turn to Annales influenced or time perspectivism-driven approaches and their fixed, linear, and ontologically incompatible layers of history. In contrast, I will use assemblages to examine how we can rethink both the emergence of multiple scales, and their role in history, without reducing the differences of the small-scale to an epiphenomenal outcome of larger events, or treating large-scale historical processes as mere reifications of the ‘real’ on-the-ground stuff of daily life. As we will see, this approach also has consequences for the particular kind of reality we accord to large-scale archaeological categories.
DOI Link: 10.1017/S0959774316000597
ISSN: 0959-7743
eISSN: 1474-0540
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2017, Cambridge University Press (CUP). Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Archaeology and Ancient History

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