Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology

By Ian Hodder; Scott Hutson | Go to book overview

Preface to the second edition

The first edition was written as a personal account in an uncertain world in which post-processual approaches had hardly had any impact. It represented my musings in the dark. Since that time there has been so much other publication (especially the books by Shanks and Tilley 1987a and b, Leone and Potter 1988, Gero and Conkey 1990, Tilley 1990a and b, Bapty and Yates 1990) and so much evaluation in relation to processual archaeology (e.g. the debate in Norwegian Archae- ological Review 1989, Watson 1986, Earle and Preucel 1987, Preucel 1990) that the book needed to be brought up to date and my views tempered with the opinions presented in the literature.

The book still falls short of presenting a unified postprocessual position since there are many diverging points of viewnowbeing expressed in theoretical archaeology. Initially post-processual archaeology was held together in the critique of processual approaches. This critique is now well established and post-processual archaeologists have turned more to the construction of the past. In doing so differences have become more stark but the discipline has been enlivened by the variety of perspectives. Nevertheless, the number of substantive post-processual interpretations of the past remains relatively small although several are about to appear (e.g. Hodder 1990a; Tilley 1990b). As more work is done so the differences and arguments will be brought into focus.

In the 1980s archaeology saw the gradual emergence of studies concerned with interpreting past cultural meanings in relation to such issues as power and domination, history and gender. In this move archaeology was taking part in wider changes in the humanities and social sciences. As Trigger (1989, p. 776) has noted, 'in anthropology and the other social sciences there has been during the 1980s a renewed appreciation of the complexity of behaviour and an increasing

-xv-

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Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the First Edition xi
  • Preface to the Second Edition xv
  • Preface to the Third Edition xvii
  • 1: The Problem 1
  • 2: Processual and Systems Approaches 20
  • 3: Structuralist, Post-Structuralist and Semiotic Archaeologies 45
  • 4: Marxism and Ideology 75
  • 5: Agency and Practice 90
  • 6: Embodied Archaeology 106
  • 7: Archaeology and History 125
  • 8: Contextual Archaeology 156
  • 9: Post-Processual Archaeology 206
  • 10: Conclusion: Archaeology as Archaeology 236
  • Bibliography 248
  • Index 284
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