Architecture & Order: Approaches to Social Space

Architecture & Order: Approaches to Social Space

Architecture & Order: Approaches to Social Space

Architecture & Order: Approaches to Social Space

Synopsis

Architecture is a powerful medium for representing, ordering and classifying the world, and understanding the use of space is fundamental to archaeological inquiry. Architecture and Order draws on the work of archaeologists, social theorists and architects to explore the way in which people relate to the architecture which surrounds them. In many societies, houses and tombs have encoded cultural meanings and values which are invoked and recalled through the practices of daily life.Chapters include explorations of the early farming r archi*eye of Europe, from before the use of metals, to the Classical and Medieval worlds of the Mediterranean and Europe. Research of the recent past and present include an overview of hunter-gatherers' camp organization, a reassessment of the use of space amongst the Dogon of West Africa and an examination of mental disorders relating to the use of space in Britain. The volume goes beyond the implication that culture determines form to develop an approach that integrates meaning and practice.

Excerpt

The idea and incentive for this book arose out of a shared feeling that despite the obsessive practice of recording architecture and physical features in the greatest detail imaginable, archaeologists were somehow missing the point in their substitution of description for understanding. Although this observation could encompass most archaeogical studies of material culture, it was different ways of interpreting architecture and the definition of social space which especially interested us. This was primarily due to a confrontation of these issues in our independent research into prehistoric tombs and houses. As a result of this interest, we both considered it important to examine and experience architecture and order in different cultural settings. Consequently we began our own fieldwork in Bali (CR) and Madagascar (MPP).

The more we considered the problem the clearer it became that through the power of a tradition of practice, archaeologists viewed the materiality of the past in a very peculiar manner. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the treatment of social space where a contrived objectivity is practised which frequently serves to reduce architecture to a descriptive and definitional level that totally alienates the observer/reader. Here the 'landscape', 'enclosure' or 'house' merely defines units of analysis and unfortunately these constructs are often viewed solely in two dimensions. An experience of space tends never to be considered appropriate because of the inherent subjectivity. Therefore, any understanding of the architecture of the past is quite different and alien from our own experiences of architecture and social practices in the present. We reject this reductionism through the realization of the subjective experience and the objective presentation of architecture. We also accept the potential reconstruction of a past which acknowledges that different people who live in different places and times, order and understand their world in very different ways.

In this volume we begin by introducing a number of themes which show how the constructed environment is more than a backdrop to action and is locked in a reflexive relationship with lived experience of the world. Classifications of people and things are physically realized through

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