Institute of Archaeology


Debating Posthumanism in Archaeology

30 August 2021

Andrew Gardner (UCL Institute of Archaeology) is one of the co-editors of a Special Section of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal entitled Debating Posthumanism in Archaeology, published earlier this month.

Cambridge Archaeological Journal (vol. 31.3, 2021)  - cover image

This collection of 12 papers, edited by Andrew Gardner, together with Manuel Fernández-Götz, Guillermo Díaz de Liaño and Oliver J.T. Harris, published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Volume 31.3 (2021), addresses the increasing interest in various forms of post-humanist theory, often characterised as a ‘material’ or ‘ontological’ turn, which is the major new trend in archaeological theory in the last few years.

This broad movement's aims include recognition of the importance of the material and the non-human in societies, both past and present. Many within this emerging tradition criticise the supposedly anthropocentric orientation of previous archaeology, highlighting alternatives sometimes derived from non-western ontologies, and raise the possibility of material or non-human agency.

There is, however, an increasingly vocal reaction to this movement which acknowledges the diversity of ways of ‘being human’, but sees political, ethical and intellectual pitfalls in conflating subjects and objects.

The aim of this collection is to provide a range of critical reflections from all sides of the debate. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion across and beyond the discipline, rather than promote a particular perspective.