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The social lives of lived and inscribed objects: a Lapita perspective

Marshall, Yvonne (2008) The social lives of lived and inscribed objects: a Lapita perspective Journal of the Polynesian Society, 117, (1), pp. 59-101.

Record type: Article


As James Cook and his men on the Resolution and Discovery sailed through Polynesia and the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, they were treated to a number of welcome rituals and ceremonial performances. In this paper the author looks beyond the immediate face value of objects to a more rounded understanding of objects and their agency. The author suggests rethinking objects as social interventions and possible events rather than as portals to archaeological information. To do this I will develop a distinction drawn by feminist philosopher Elizabeth Grosz (1994) between lived and inscribed bodies and employ this distinction as a conceptual tool for thinking about the agency of objects, particularly Lapita pottery.

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Submitted date: March 2007
Published date: 1 March 2008
Additional Information: This paper builds on current thinking in anthropology and archaeology concerning objects and their agency by drawing on parallel ideas developed in feminist approaches to the body. The distinction drawn by Elizabeth Grosz between lived and inscribed bodies is applied to objects and, using Lapita pottery as an illustrative example, it is employed as an analytical tool for understanding the agency exercised by objects to effect social change and continuity.
Keywords: pacific archaeology, lapita, feminist theory, gender, oceania, objects


Local EPrints ID: 79846
ISSN: 0032-4000
PURE UUID: 2f736a1d-6e6b-459d-a0fb-f6101bc08856

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Date deposited: 22 Mar 2010
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 23:16

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