The elusive materiality of the human body

I am back from the EAA 20th Conference and soon there will be a review posted on the AP:Online Journal in Public Archaeology blog. In the meantime, between an article which needs to be written (on the materiality of the osteoarchaeological body and the constitution of the anthropological body in early 20th century Romania), some administrative stuff (the nemesis of researchers) and boredom, I decided to update this blog (neglected for too long!) with fragments of the articles I am reading.

The exerpt of today: from Thomas, J S. “Archaeology’s humanism and the materiality of the body.” In Thinking Through the Body, ed. Y. Hamilakis, M. Pluciennik and S. Tarlow, -.Kluwer, 2002, p. 29-46.

[talking about the body and the seemingly universal nature of the material body]

“Butler suggests that materialization is something which happens, rather than something which simply is. Materialisation is the process by which the world reveals itself to us in an intelligible form (Hull 1997: 23). In the case of the human body, materialization takes the form of a forcible reiteration of norms set within a heterosexual cultural matrix. Securing cultural intelligibility, avoiding the state of abjection, involves a constant gender performance which never achieves the closure of simply being male or female. The way in which the body becomes recognizable is both restricted and facilitated by discourse and power” (Thomas 2002, 33)

Further readings on the materiality of the body:

  • Krmpotich, C. et alii 2010. The substance of bones: the emotive materiality and affective presence of human remains. Journal of Material Culture 15 no. 4 371-384
  • Leighton, M. 2010. Personifying Objects/Objectifying People: Handling Questions of Mortality and Materiality through the Archaeological Body. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology Volume 75, Issue 1.
  • Sofaer, J. 2012.  Touching the Body: The Living and the Dead in Osteoarchaeology and the Performance Art of Marina Abramović. Norwegian Archaeological Review.

4 thoughts on “The elusive materiality of the human body

  1. This is fantastic, very helpful for my own post (forthcoming) on anatomy and the human body in forensics and archaeology (really should start writing it…). Regardless, if that post is never wrote, this leads post leads to numerous articles I cannot wait to read. thanks!

    1. Glad to hear that 🙂 unfortunately i had no time to elaborate on them, but thought they might be of interest to someone nonetheless. You might have a look at: Hallam E. 2010. Articulating Bones: An Epilogue. J Mater Cult 15:465–492. too.
      Looking forward to reading your post!

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