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Things in the Eye of the Beholder: A Humanistic Perspective on Archaeological Object Biographies
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.
2014 (English)In: Norwegian Archaeological Review, ISSN 0029-3652, E-ISSN 1502-7678, Vol. 47, no 1, 65-82 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The object-biographical approach is popular and well-established in archaeology, providing useful structures for conducting investigations and creating historical narratives. The approach is attractive because it encourages the consideration of many different angles like networks, embodiment and memory. It also facilitates the appreciation of objects as agents and allows for multivocality and the treatment of multiple time layers. Still, the approach suffers from a built-in risk of constructing cumulative and pre-determined narratives, describing objects rather than providing an understanding of past worlds. These problems result from an archaeological eye which is directed mainly to the objects themselves' and the bio- (life) part, while little attention is paid to the -graphy (writing). Material aspects and scientific method are often carefully considered, while humanistic theory and methodology are little reflected upon. Here it is suggested that more weight should be given to humanistic traditions, where biographical writing as such has its own theory and strategies, one example here being object biographies in the shape of It-narratives'. The object-biographical field of archaeological study needs to be revitalized by renewed theoretical input, in particular with attention to the different strategies and myriad possibilities for writing object lives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 47, no 1, 65-82 p.
Keyword [en]
Object biographies, life histories, material turn, It-narratives, hagiography, archaeological discourse, things, material culture
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-106463DOI: 10.1080/00293652.2014.909877ISI: 000337969300004OAI: diva2:736103
Available from: 2014-08-05 Created: 2014-08-04 Last updated: 2015-12-22Bibliographically approved

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Myrberg Burström, Nanouschka
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Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies
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