By Allan Pred, Michael J. Watts
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Extra info for Reworking Modernity: Capitalisms and Symbolic Discontent (Hegemony and Experience : Critical Studies in Anthropology and History)
The subjective becomes the form of the objective because both are aspects of the same material process. To return to categorization: a materialist emphasis on theory as practice requires a redefinition of the object world, a reconceptualizing centred on mediation. Instead of self-contained objects possessing identity, there are fields of relations. Identity presupposes difference from something else. There are no conclusive categories which can incorporate the differential and relational complexity of material reality and production.
Generally, contemporary archaeology can be characterized as being pervaded by a set of categorical oppositions. Practice Object Past Presence Substance Reality Theory Subject Present Absence Re-presentation Rhetoric, text SECURITY SUSPICION Underlying and giving meaning to these oppositions are the two other terms: security and suspicion. 'Practice' through to 'reality' imply a nexus of security and, accordingly, these are considered primary in contrast to the questionability and suspicion underlying their opposites.
The book consists of a series of illustrations of these generalizations and processes in Aegean city-states, Minoan palaces, complex chiefdoms in the European Iron age, Classic Mayan centres, the Midwestern Hopewell, USA. The concept of peer polity interaction usefully emphasizes societal interaction and complex processes of transformation rather than synchronic analyses of the workings of a single polity. Attention is also drawn to interactions which might be termed symbolic or stylistic. However, as with the systems approach, there is the very real problem of defining the units of interest - here peer polities.