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A deep history of emotion: an interpretive framework

A deep history of emotion: an interpretive framework
A deep history of emotion: an interpretive framework
This thesis represents the first extended attempt by an archaeologist to construct an evolutionary theory of emotion. The handful of attempts that have appeared since the 1990s have failed to gain any real traction with archaeologists caught in a theoretical deadlock over the way in which an ‘archaeology of emotion’ should be approached.

This thesis will attempt to break the deadlock by reframing the debate around a ‘deep history of emotion’. It will be argued that it is only through a comprehensive longue durée approach that emotion can be understood in a prehistoric context. This requires the construction of a theory that can explain both the early biological origins of emotion and the later cultural constructions that characterize modern human societies.

This will be achieved through an appraisal of the interdisciplinary literature on emotion in search of a definition of emotion amendable for the archaeological enterprise. It is argued that rather than seeking discrete emotions directly, archaeologists should focus on the process by which emotional experiences are psychologically constructed and the cognitive traits that combine to produce complex emotional experience. Child development will be proposed as a starting point to understand how emotions are constructed from more basic cognitive ingredients.

Ultimately, three hypothetical mindstates will be proposed as heuristics through which hominin emotional capacities may be approached. Archaeological evidence for life history patterns and the cognitive ingredients of emotion will be used to anchor these mindstates in the past, providing predictions for the emotional vocabulary of hominins and possible new ways to interpret behaviour and material culture.

This thesis demonstrates that archaeologists can consider the emotional abilities of ancestral hominin by using innovative theoretical methods. An approach of this sort can provide new ways of looking at old data with the objective of expanding our appreciation of the decision-making processes that inform action.
University of Southampton
Hunt, Daniel
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Hunt, Daniel
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Gamble, Clive
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Hamilakis, Yannis
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Davies, Simon
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Hunt, Daniel (2018) A deep history of emotion: an interpretive framework. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 224pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis represents the first extended attempt by an archaeologist to construct an evolutionary theory of emotion. The handful of attempts that have appeared since the 1990s have failed to gain any real traction with archaeologists caught in a theoretical deadlock over the way in which an ‘archaeology of emotion’ should be approached.

This thesis will attempt to break the deadlock by reframing the debate around a ‘deep history of emotion’. It will be argued that it is only through a comprehensive longue durée approach that emotion can be understood in a prehistoric context. This requires the construction of a theory that can explain both the early biological origins of emotion and the later cultural constructions that characterize modern human societies.

This will be achieved through an appraisal of the interdisciplinary literature on emotion in search of a definition of emotion amendable for the archaeological enterprise. It is argued that rather than seeking discrete emotions directly, archaeologists should focus on the process by which emotional experiences are psychologically constructed and the cognitive traits that combine to produce complex emotional experience. Child development will be proposed as a starting point to understand how emotions are constructed from more basic cognitive ingredients.

Ultimately, three hypothetical mindstates will be proposed as heuristics through which hominin emotional capacities may be approached. Archaeological evidence for life history patterns and the cognitive ingredients of emotion will be used to anchor these mindstates in the past, providing predictions for the emotional vocabulary of hominins and possible new ways to interpret behaviour and material culture.

This thesis demonstrates that archaeologists can consider the emotional abilities of ancestral hominin by using innovative theoretical methods. An approach of this sort can provide new ways of looking at old data with the objective of expanding our appreciation of the decision-making processes that inform action.

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HUNT e-Thesis Final - Version of Record
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More information

Published date: June 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432081
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432081
PURE UUID: 3dc2b93f-24c8-4fed-9589-e448487141ba
ORCID for Simon Davies: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1830-5403

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 Jul 2019 16:30
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 16:59

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Contributors

Author: Daniel Hunt
Thesis advisor: Clive Gamble
Thesis advisor: Yannis Hamilakis
Thesis advisor: Simon Davies ORCID iD

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