domingo, 3 de janeiro de 2010

An interesting debate in the WAC list...about the conference: "Constellations of objects: interactive material worlds" ... and my contribution

On 09/12/28 0:44, "Eleanor Crosby" wrote:

Linda Hulin wrote:
Call for papers for the conference: Constellations of objects: interactive material worlds
to be held at the Pitt Rivers Museum, 5th June 2010.

I like the idea of this conference (...)

BUT, why are the organisers introducing aesthetics into archaeology?
The very concept is western and acultural (or rather mono cultural).
Have the organisers considered Practice Theory (which I've recently encountered)? The very example that drove Bourdieu to develop Practice Theory is indeed art studies. In his view aesthetics studies objects from a purely western (art historian's) cultural perspective - and he points out that such a view is totally opposed to the anthropologist's approach of attempting to understand the 'mechanics' of another culture in a manner that the studied culture would/could agree with. To my way of thinking all archaeologists owe an anthropologist's duty to the people of the past to primarily consider the remains of the past culture as far as possible in terms which that originating culture might have been able to understand/recognise.

It is in these terms that I have been pondering archaeological classification, particularly the limitations posed by its reduction to 'material culture' (for a criticism see Taylor 1967) rather than as the products of a cultural system called technology.

Does anyone else find this introduction of aesthetics disturbing?


Dr Eleanor Crosby
Consulting Archaeologist
Turnix Pty Ltd
21 Castle Hill Drive South

And my contribution:

Of course, what you say seems obvious. But as we do not have God’s eyes, every approach is always from a particular standpoint.
But it seems to me that you are too searching for an origin, an archè, a primordial truth.
I think that there is not such a primordial truth. This is just another error...
We should assume the fact that every knowledge is a perspective, there is no way of overlapping a researcher’s point of view with a point of view of the other, that perfect harmony is a myth, and it is a myth of the dominator, the anthropologist/archaeologist that would understand the other, making the other transparent.
Every knowledge is political, and Bourdieu knew that too.
That said, a remark: the book “Overcoming the Modern Invention of Material Culture” , edited by me and Julian Thomas (Porto, ADECAP – a non profit association – see ) and obtainable through Portico Librerías, Spain: Portico <> -could be of interest. It contains several texts, including a Tim Ingold’s finale...
Best wishes
Vitor Oliveira Jorge

Also about this, see:
"Aesthetics as a cross-culture theory" in Tim Ingold's ed., "Key Debates in Anthropology", London, Routledge, 2006. A fundamental book.

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