By Chris Fowler
The Archaeology of Personhood discusses what it ability to be human and, via drawing on examples from eu prehistory, discusses the results that modern understandings of personhood have on archaeological interpretation.
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Extra resources for The Archaeology of Personhood ~ An anthropological approach
This is quite different to western ideas of individual ownership since it provides such a temporary position for both the man and the pig to occupy. A thing might belong to a social group, but not necessarily be owned by anyone as a private possession in our conception (Miller 1987:121). In other words, a pig may share ‘belonging’ with human family members, not belong to them. Outside of capitalism gifts may be persons and may also be parts of persons. In order to unravel this close affinity between gifts and persons we turn to some research on gift exchange in Melanesia and Polynesia, where such connections are highly apparent.
Life stages are one of the features that shape these strategies. Age is also one of the key concepts in understanding personhood, since a person is conceived and born, and after many life-changing experiences (including death: see Chapter 5) may eventually cease to be a person at all. Exactly when a person is fully considered as such varies culturally, and is an issue that lies at the heart of debates over abortion, for example. Rites of passage to do with age grades are often held throughout life, drawing out a new feature of the person and diminishing others, and binding together people of the same age group.
On one level this due to the ability of metaphors to move across contexts, to apply to people and things. g. Brück 200la; Chapman 1996:207–8; Dobres 1999:19; Jones 2002:89–90; Lakoff and Johnson 1980). Schools, prisons, and other social institutions play key roles in shaping our bodies as a technology of the self (Foucault 1977), and, as already argued, there have been specific technologies like diaries, novels, portraiture and private bedrooms that have all been brought to bear in producing historically specific modes of personhood.
The Archaeology of Personhood ~ An anthropological approach by Chris Fowler