domingo, 27 de dezembro de 2009

Overcoming the Modern Invention of Material Culture - book review

To get this book:

European Journal of Archaeology

DOI: 10.1177/14619571070100020705

European Journal of Archaeology 2007; 10; 231

Marisa Lazzari

Book Review: V. Oliveira Jorge and J. Thomas, eds, Overcoming the

Modern Invention of Material Culture. (Porto: ADECAP, Journal of Iberian

Archaeology 9[10], 2006_2007, Special Issue)

The online version of this article can be found at:

Published by:

On behalf of:

European Association of Archaeologists



V. Oliveira Jorge and J. Thomas, eds, Overcoming

the Modern Invention of Material Culture. (Porto:

ADECAP, Journal of Iberian Archaeology 9[10],

2006–2007, Special Issue)

This volume addresses the long overdue question

of the dualism underlying the expression

‘material culture’, a concept that has dominated

much of archaeological research over

the last decades, while coming to designate a

new field of interdisciplinary academic

inquiry. The editors duly introduce the volume

by addressing the fact that words are

never innocent. The words we choose engender

social categories and taxonomies, therefore

discussing and revising conceptual labels are

never self-indulgent intellectual exercises but

a constitutive aspect of any research agenda.

Collected here are the presentations given at

the 2006 TAG meeting in Exeter. An article by

Ingold (2007), who was also the discussant,

was pre-circulated among the participants.

This enabled the authors to engage more thoroughly

with Ingold’s critique of the distinction

between a ‘material’ and a ‘cultural’ order

implied in the term, and the seemingly spurious

attempts to overcome it that are concealed

in the now increasingly popular term ‘materiality’

as a background for their discussions.

Undoubtedly Ingold (2000, 2007) has been

one of the main voices rising against the delusions

of modernity’s dichotomous thinking,

and his ideas are insightful and operative in

pushing the discipline forward. Yet there is

largely a suspicious attitude, as if archaeologists

and other scholars concerned with materials

required a ‘detective’ to highlight the

tracks of taken-for-granted categories. This

suspiciousness is a common thread uniting the

articles, as most of the chapters open by indicating

how previous or current approaches to

things are ‘still modern’ even when claiming

not to be so, before outlining their proposed

ways to move forward. However, one of the

greatest shortcomings of this otherwise worthy

endeavour is the fact that only a few articles

address this question through an engagement

with materials.

Many of the chapters that do engage with

materials seem to use them as excuses for discussing

theoretical positions in ways that

remain more declamatory than interpretive

and, in general, the book does not provide the

reader with an adequate sense of the unavoidable

presence of materials in past worlds.

While authors steadfastly reiterate that things

are ‘gatherings’, ‘bundles of relations’, or ‘convergences’,

they are nevertheless relegated to

the background of these exciting ideas. This

contradiction at the heart of the book reminds

us of earlier projects in archaeology, and

presages a deeper question.

Indeed, this agenda seems in line with early

postprocessual critique, when the ‘archaeological

unconscious’ was the preferred target of

analysis and the tangible order somehow

receded in the background, as an excuse or

entry point to talk about meaningful human

action in both the past and the present. As I

have just said, whilst the critique of categories

is necessary work and thus constitutive of our

craft (and I have engaged in such a tracking

myself), one wonders whether the project is

running counter to its own propositions. For if

our knowledge of the world is embodied, and

thinking does not take place outside our

involvement in the world, one must assume

that binary categories are somehow a part of

our intersubjective, embodied existence. That

is, binaries may not only be a manifestation of

hegemonic thinking, but also a part of how we

experience the world in which we are brought

into being. Therefore, how can we claim to

‘overcome’ them? And isn’t this aspiration to

overcome historically given notions intrinsically

dialectical and modern? This means that

since our resources are polluted, the critical

examination of the conditions and parameters

of knowledge production is necessarily a collective

endeavour. Yet this can only work effectively

if we find ways of not only discussing,

but also of researching and writing that fully

embrace materials and their complexities.

The relevant question is perhaps how to

deconstruct the categories in ways that are

more sensitive to the experience of other

societies (as well as our own), while avoiding

the pitfalls of either reifying difference (both

in the past and the present), or seamlessly

connecting the past and present in genealogies

of endurance.

One of the preferred paths chosen by the

authors has been to use ethnography as suggestive

of potentialities in human societies.

Although offering new understandings that are

helpful in highlighting the richness of human

experience beyond what has been delineated

by Modernity, many times the ideas put forward

by these works are discussed without

fully engaging with their relevance to the contexts

under study. In other words, a lifeworld –

formed by elements of various kinds – may

afford particular material textures that may or

may not be similar to what the particular

archaeological context we study discloses.

Whilst ethnography allows us to think differently

about our materials, we need to go further

and actually trace the assemblages and

gatherings of things, and the relations that create

the very fabric of things. Admittedly, this

task exceeds the limits imposed by the conference

format, but some chapters in the volume

have managed to introduce interesting discussions

weaving practices and materials seamlessly

despite space limitations (e.g. chapters by

Hoffman; Lynch; TroncosoM.).

This might be related to a limited view of

materiality, which seems to be understood as a

discursive mask preventing us from seeing that

things emerge from a field of relations and

incorporate in their formthe processes by which

they come into being. ‘Materials’ (or ‘artefacts’:

Ingold 2000:340–348, 2007) is a good-enough

word to describe such a process. ‘Material culture’

assumes that materiality (as physicality) is

impenetrable, only wrapped around by culture

(as the imposition of meaning), and in this view,

the recent use ofmateriality in social theory continues

this understanding.

This is of course a very valid point that

may never be covered satisfactorily by any

single perspective. Although this could be

accused of spinning the discussion into superficial

semantics, I have argued elsewhere that

materiality is a necessary word to address the

relationality of the world (Lazzari 2005). It

implies a different way of conceiving the tangible,

beyond function and technicality,

but including the capacities of the physical

properties of things to modify human perception

and action. Artefacts help us enter beyond

the physical into the realm of the imaginary in

the sense of Merleau Ponty (1975), that is, as

generated by lived bodies rather than

detached consciousnesses. In this sense, the

tangible is not something to be transcended in

order to create meaning. In line with what

most of the authors of the book argue, the tangible

is itself an emergent property of myriad

lived relations of various orders and kinds. Yet

unlike many of the authors, materiality as a

concept enables our immersion in such orders

and kinds without forgetting the tangible. Our

thick descriptions of past lifestyles should

engage with the full life of artefacts, even

when their various performances as active

bodies may have been apparently contradictory.

This requires overcoming traditional separations

between classes of materials; only in

relation to each other (and to other elements

of the lifeworld) do artefacts reveal their

multiplicity. Thus carefully tracked interrelations

between material classes and past practices

may reveal the multi-layered nature of

artefacts (e.g. as ambiguous performers caught

between representational projects and their

dissolution). Such an angle may be missed

from an analysis that focuses on single material

classes that only have dialogue with contemporary

ethnography (cf. Alberti’s critique

in the volume).

The concern about the relational constitution

of the tangible and the multiplicity of

things has a long and more complex genealogy

than the authors seem to accept. Merleau Ponty

(2000:163) proposed the continuity of bodies

and things in the fabric of the world. Lefebvre

(1991:222) described things as textures, nodes in

fields of relation; a lived fabric of rhythms and

relationships learned and understood through

praxis. Also Mauss (1968 [1939]), often taken as

a ‘suspect’ of Cartesianism, preceded recent

inquiries into the etymology of the word ‘matter’,

highlighting the animated and relational

understandings that had been erased by modern

thinking. Even Marx – another suspect –

disclosed like few others the absurd operations

behind the conceptual separation of mind and

matter (Marx 1977; see Stallybrass 1998).

Deleuze and Guattari (1987:21) called

dualisms ‘the necessary enemy, the furniture

we are forever rearranging’. Overcoming our

entrenched conceptualizations of the world is

an ongoing project that travels back and forth,

therefore all efforts should be welcome. This

volume succeeds at introducing a necessary

discussion and encourages a promising disciplinary

shift toward relational ontology; yet

by keeping materials in the background it may

undermine the broader impact, both in the

discipline and beyond, that it seeks to achieve.


DELEUZE, G. and F. GUATTARI, 1987. A Thousand

Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.Minneapolis:

University ofMinnesota Press.

INGOLD, T., 2000. The Perception of the

Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and

Skill. London: Routledge.

INGOLD, T., 2007. Materials against materiality.

Archaeological Dialogues14(1):1–16.

LAZZARI, M., 2005. The texture of things:

Objects, people and social spaces in NW

Argentina (first millennium AD). In L. Meskell

(ed.), Archaeologies of Materiality: 126–161.

Oxford: Blackwell.

LEFEBVRE, H., 1991. The Production of Space.

Oxford: Blackwell.

MAUSS, M., 1968. Conceptions qui ont précedé

la notion de matiére (Conference, 1939). In V.

Karady (pres.), OEuvres II: 161–166. Paris:

Editions de Minuit.

MARX, K., 1977. On Mills. In D. McLellan (ed.),

Karl Marx: Selected Writings: 114–123. Oxford:

Oxford University Press.

MERLEAU PONTY, M., 1975. The Visible and the

Invisible. Evanston, IL: North Western

University Press.

MERLEAU PONTY, M., 2000. Eye and mind. In J.

Edie (ed.), The Primacy of Perception: 159–190.

Evanston, IL: NorthWestern University Press.

STALLYBRASS, P., 1998. Marx’s coat. In P. Spyer

(ed.), Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in

Unstable Places: 183–207. London: Routledge.

Marisa Lazzari

Department of Archaeology,

University of Exeter, UK


Downloaded from at Hogskolan i Kalmar on January 9, 2009

terça-feira, 8 de dezembro de 2009

TAG Sheffield UK 2006

A moment of the session organized by Vítor O. Jorge and the publication that resulted from that session - a book that is also a special issue of Journal of Iberian Archaeology, 2006, vol. 8.

Some papers published in JIA available on line

Go to:

domingo, 29 de novembro de 2009

Mesas-redondas de Primavera realizadas no Porto

Mesas-redondas de Primavera do Porto

(datas de realização e de publicação dos livros resultantes)

1ª fase – organização da SPAE ou ADECAP

1 – Pensar a Arqueologia, Hoje (1997), 1997

Penser l’ Archéologie Aujourd’ hui

To Think Archaeology Today

2 - A Arqueologia e os Outros Patrimónios (1998), 1999

L’ Archéologie et les Autres Patrimoines

Archaeology and Other Heritages

3 – O Património e os Media (1999), 2000

Le Patrimoine et les Média

Heritage and Media

4 – Ambiente, Cultura e Desenvolvimento (2000), 2001

Environnement, Culture et Développement

Environment, Culture, Development

5 – Identidade, Identidades (2001), 2002

Identité, Identitées

Identity, Identities

6 – As Imagens que nos Vêem (2002), 2003

Les Images qui nous Regardent

The Images that Look at Us

2ª fase – organização da FLUP/DCTP em colaboração com o CEAUCP/FCT

7 – Arquitectando Espaços: da Natureza à Metapolis (2003), 2003

Aménager des Espaces: de la Nature à la Metapolis

Designing Spaces: from Nature to Metapolis

8 – Conservar para Quê? (2004), 2005

Conserver Pour Quoi?

To Conserve: For What Reason?

3ª fase – organização da FLUP/DCTP sozinha ou em colaboração com outras entidades

9 – Cultura Light (2005), 2006 (FLUP/DCTP)

Culture Light

Light Culture


Terre: Façon de Bâtir

Earth: a Way of Building

11 – Crenças, Religiões, Poderes, 2007 (2008 - Ed. Afrontamento, Porto) (FLUP/DCTP EM COLABORAÇÃO COM ED. AFRONTAMENTO)

Croyances, Religions, Pouvoirs (2007)

Beliefs, Religions, Powers (2007)

12 Conhecimento e Prazer – Prazer do Conhecimento (FLUP/DCTP)

Connaissance et Plaisir – Plaisir de la Connaissance

Knowledge and pleasure – The Pleasure of Knowledge

10 e 11 de ABRIL DE 2008

a vermelho as realizadas e publicadas pela ADECAP.

sábado, 28 de novembro de 2009


Assembleia Geral da ADECAP às 14,30
Conferência do Doutor Gonçalo Leite Velho às 15,30
Antes, apresentação pública do JIA 12, 2009
e da revista da SPAE "Trabalhos de Antropologia e Etnologia", vol. 49, 2009
(ambas revistas com referees e apoiadas pela FCT)

Tudo no Centro Unesco do Porto, R. José Falcão, 100 (perto da livraria Leitura)


quinta-feira, 5 de novembro de 2009

Volumes anteriores do JIA (0 a 11)

Podem ser obtidos através do nosso distribuidor internacional:
Portico Librerías - Zaragoza

Por falta de espaço (a ADECAP funciona num escritório particular, onde é a sua sede) não fazemos intercâmbio. Mas podemos receber obras para efeitos de recensão crítica. Nesse sentido, e porque nem sempre está gente na sede para atender o correio, o mais seguro é enviar para a morada do presidente da direcção, que este indicará aos interessados que o contactarem por e-mail.

JIA - Scientific board

(Click on the image to enlarge it)

Conferência promovida pela ADECAP em 2008

No dia 6 de Dezembro de 2008, no Centro Unesco do Porto (R. José Falcão, 100) a ADECAP promoveu uma conferência das arqueólogas Maria de Lurdes Oliveira, Lídia Baptista, doutorandas da FLUP, e Bárbara Carvalho, no Centro Unesco do Porto, R. José Falcão, 100, às 15 horas, como de costume com entrada livre a não sócios.
A conferência abordou o tema: “Os sítios de fossas do III e II milénios a. C. das bacias hidrográficas das Ribeiras do Pisão e do Álamo (Beja, Portugal). Considerações preliminares sobre os trabalhos arqueológicos", e foi seguida de um animado e interessante debate.

Quem são os actuais corpos sociais da ADECAP (até 2010 inclusive)

Assembleia Geral

Susana Oliveira Jorge –Presidente – Profa. da FLUP

Sérgio Monteiro Rodrigues- Vice-Presidente - Prof. da FLUP

João Muralha Cardoso – secretário – Arqueólogo do IGESPAR


Vítor Oliveira Jorge – Presidente - Prof. da FLUP

Maria de Jesus Sanches – Vice-Presidente - Profa. da FLUP

Ana Margarida Vale – secretária – Arqueóloga, doutoranda da FLUP

Conselho Fiscal

Ana Maria Bettencourt – Presidente – Profa. da UM

José Manuel Varela – relator – Arqueólogo

Gonçalo Leite Velho – vogal - Docente do IPT. Tomar

Para se fazer sócio da ADECAP

(Clique na imagem para ampliar)

Remeta os dados desta ficha pelo correio para a nossa sede ou preencha-os e envie por mail para:
O pagamento da jóia (no caso de se fazer sócio) ou da quota anual (e atenção, porque há muitos sócios com as quotas em atraso...) deve ser feito por transferência bancária para a conta da ADECAP no Montepio Geral, enviando de seguida para o mail acima o aviso/comprovação de que a transferência foi feita.
Para os novos sócios, que não dispõem do NIB da ADECAP: basta solicitá-lo por mail, sempre para o endereço acima.
Obrigado. Contribua para que a ADECAP prossiga a sua tarefa, pois os subsídios são escassos. Ajude-nos a pôr aqui on line o conteúdo dos JIAs anteriores.
Faça alguma coisa por esta associação!

Montante da jóia de inscrição:
normal - 10 euros
estudante de licenciatura - 5 euros
Montante anual das quotas: residentes em Portugal:
normal - 20 euros
estudante de licenciatura - 12,5o euros

Residentes no estrangeiro:
normal - 25 euros
estudante de licenciatura - 15 euros

JIA 12 - 2009 - Contents


(Click on the image to enlarge it)

JIA has the support of FCT - Fundação para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia - Fundo de Apoio à Comunidade Científica

JIA’s editorial line

JIA’s editorial line

When in 1997 we had the idea of creating the association ADECAP, in order to organize the III Congress of Iberian Archaeology (UTAD, 1999), we also immediately thought of having a journal in English dedicated to spread all over the world what was happening in the archaeology of the Iberian peninsula.
Thus JIA (Journal of Iberian Archaeology) was born, and in 1998 it launched its experimental first issue, the 0 one!
The idea of JIA was not only to make a periodic publication containing information about the archaeology of Iberia. Moreover, it was also intended to launch to the world what were the main issues and debates occurring in this parcel of Europe, including theoretical contributions to the general discussion of the status of archaeology, its role in the world today, its interdisciplinary connections, etc.
Up to this moment we have tried our best to accomplish that task. Volumes 0 to 7 and 11 have included papers that authors sent to us, about diverse issues… and we hope in next volumes to continue that editorial line.
Volumes 8 (2006) and 9/10 (2006/2007) were special issues, dedicated to the publication of the proceedings of two sessions organized in the TAG conferences in the UK respectively in 2005 and 2006. All these volumes are available at Portico Librerías, Zaragoza, and people and institutions associated to ADECAP receive them by mail. We do not make exchange because of a question of space. ADECAP functions in an office that I have rented with my wife and colleague a long ago in Porto to have room enough to research in this field of archaeology, due to the fact that unfortunately we do not have the minimum of conditions elsewhere.
We welcome papers that search for un equilibrium of theory and practice, that in fact dissolve that illusionary barrier. Every description presupposes a theory and every theory implies a practice, unless it is completely nonsense.
Using he English language as a vehicle is crucial today. I have published hundreds of papers that make an impressive list at first sight, but only for Portuguese speaking people that may have some sense… for the rest (i.e. for the most part of my colleagues in the world), they are written in a sort of undecipherable language, in spite of the fact that, in literary terms, Portuguese is a great creative language. However, in he field of “scientific communication”, Portuguese is useless today. It is a waste of time to publish in my own language. In the global world, together with the conservation of our own “identity”, of course, we need to be polyglot people, or else we turn into a kind of solipsists.
The point for each one of us today is: we know that we are not able to establish relationships (be them work relations or of any other kind) with a crowd: we need to chose. Traditionally, our choice was made in the vicinity: neighbours, college colleagues, family relationships, etc. We were framed by these conditions of proximity. Today the entire world (at least, the world that have access to global communication) is the place where each one of us may pick here and there the subjects and the persons that really have something in common. And that is a completely new atmosphere that is still in its beginnings.
For instance, I know that probably in the planet there are some 20 people or so that not only share my main interests, but also are able to establish a durable relationship with me in terms of exchange of ideas, of experiences, even of sharing a complicity, a friendship. But who are they, where are they, and how shall I pick them at all? That is the main question of a communicative world today.
That is why we persist, indeed I do persist, with this effort of publishing JIA. Welcome on board.


A ADECAP promove uma conferência pelo Doutor Gonçalo Leite Velho, do Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, no dia 28 de Novembro de 2009, às 15,30 horas, no Centro Unesco do Porto (R. José Falcão, 100 - perto da livraria Leitura), subordinada ao tema:


Entrada livre.
Aproveite para se fazer sócio da ADECAP e levar já consigo o volume 12, de 2009, da revista Journal of Iberian Archaeology.

Assembleia Geral anual




NOS TERMOS DOS ESTATUTOS DA ADECAP, CONVOCO UMA ASSEMBLEIA GERAL PARA O DIA 28.11.2009, nas instalações do Centro Unesco do Porto, R. José Falcão, 100 - Porto) ÀS 14,30 HORAS, COM A SEGUINTE


1) Apresentação e votação do relatório de actividades e de contas do ano de 2008, e do parecer do Conselho Fiscal.
2) Assuntos correntes da ADECAP, e apresentação do volume 12, de 2009, da revista Journal of Iberian Archaeology.



No caso de haver atrasos/faltas de sócios, a AG realizar-se-á às 15 h. com qualquer número de sócios presentes. Seguir-se-á a anunciada conferência de Gonçalo Leite Velho (IPT, Tomar), às 15,30. Esta última é de entrada livre.