Material Agency: Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Approach

Front Cover
Carl Knappett, Lambros Malafouris
Springer Science & Business Media, Dec 15, 2008 - Science - 256 pages

Agency is a key theme that cross-cuts a wide raft of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and beyond; yet it is invariably discussed separately behind closed disciplinary doors.

Within archaeology, agency has been characterized as a uniquely human attribute, and a means of incorporating individual intentionality into theoretical discourse. In other domains, however, notions of non-human and ‘material’ agency have been finding currency, and it is our aim to introduce some of these themes into archaeology and develop a non-anthropocentric approach to agency.

It is anticipated that such a perspective will not only help us achieve more convincing interpretations of the past, giving a more active role to material culture, but also throw new light on the changing role of artifacts in the present and the future.

This book is a groundbreaking attempt to address questions of non-human and material agency from a wide range of perspectives and disciplines: archaeology, anthropology, sociology, cognitive science, philosophy, and economics. The editors and authors demostrate that a distributed, relational approach to agency, incorporating both humans and artifacts, has important ramifications for how we understand material culture.

 

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Contents

Where Brain Body and World Collide
1
An Argument for Material Agency
19
Distributed Cognition and the Archaeology of Memory
37
Cumbrian Sheep in 2001
57
Trees in Place and Time
79
Intelligent Artefacts at Home in the 21st Century
97
Meaning Materiality and Agency in the Process of Archaeological Recording
121
Artefacts Pictures and Texts
139
Some Stimulating Solutions
157
On Mediation and Material Agency in the Peircean Semeiotic
187
Social theory for arthropods
209
Agency Networks Past and Future
217
Index
249
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