Session: #120

Theme & Session Format

5. Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

What Is “Social” in Social Archaeology? Re-evaluating Social Theory and Its Impact in European Prehistory
In their attempt to interpret past social dynamics, archaeologists still mostly rely on theories produced in the 1980’s and 1990’s. But this has become increasingly challenging when trying to incorporate new data on aDNA, globalized interaction, emergence of innovation and logic of change. Additionally, the different sociological concepts and terminologies are embedded in larger theoretical frameworks, which sanction the existence of dichotomies such as agency and structure, actors and communities, or state formation and anarchist flexibility. However, in archaeology this conceptual capacity often becomes the means of classifying archaeological data and not necessarily explaining the studied phenomena.
With this session we want to discuss whether the ideas derived from social theory actually help us conceptualize the lives of past societies and if the concepts we normally use allow us to investigate what is “social” about the past. We are interested in integrating new archaeological data into traditional social theory concepts and, should this generate obstructions, examine the possible solutions. From a spatio-temporal perspective we are especially interested in papers discussing these aspects from the perspective of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Eurasia.
Archaeological theory, Social theory, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age
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Main organiser:
Robert Staniuk (Germany) 1
Alexandra Ion (Romania) 2
Artur Ribeiro (Germany) 3
1. Kiel University, Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology
2. Institute of Anthropology of the Romanian Academy
3. CRC 1266