More than representation: multi-scalar assemblages and the Deleuzian challenge to archaeology
journal contributionposted on 15.10.2015, 10:33 by Oliver Harris
In this article I examine how Deleuzian-inspired assemblage theory allows us to offer a new challenge to the enlightenment categories of thought that have dominated archaeological thinking. The history of archaeological thought, whilst superficially a series of paradigm shifts, can be retold as arguments constructed within distinctions between ideas and materials, present and past, and culture and nature. At the heart of all of these has been the critical issue of representation, of how the gap between people and the world can be bridged. In the last decade or so, however, archaeologists have begun to make a more significant challenge to these ideas, and have attempted to offer a critique of our enlightenment heritage that is ontologically, rather than epistemologically, inspired. Drawing on the manner in which assemblages allow for the vibrancy of matter, are non-anthropocentric, multiscalar and more-than-representational, this article argues that Deleuzian thought offers the best chance to rework our understanding of the past in this manner. This is explored through a case study of three scales of analysis of Neolithic Britain.