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.


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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.

Item Type: Article
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.
ISSNs: 0032-4000 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: pacific archaeology, lapita, feminist theory, gender, oceania, objects
ePrint ID: 79846
Date :
Date Event
March 2007Submitted
1 March 2008Published
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 20:13
Further Information:Google Scholar

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