Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology

By Ian Hodder; Scott Hutson | Go to book overview

3
Structuralist, post-structuralist and
semiotic archaeologies

When Edmund Leach (1973) suggested that archaeology would soon turn from functionalism to structuralism, following the path of social anthropology, he was clearly unaware that structuralist archaeology already existed. In particular the work of Leroi-Gourhan (1965), similar in some respects to that of Levi-Strauss, had been widely debated. Certainly structuralism has never dominated the discipline, but its wide-spread attraction cannot be denied (Anati 1994; Bekaert 1998; Bintliff 1984; Campbell 1998; Collet 1993; Deetz 1983; Helskog 1995; Hill 1995; Hingley 1990, 1997; Huffman 1981, 1984; Kent 1984; Lenssen-Erz 1994; Leone 1978; Miller 1982a; Muller 1971; Parker Pearson 1996, 1999; Richard and Thomas 1984; Schnapp 1984; Small 1987; Sørensen 1987; Schmidt 1997; Tilley 1991; Van de Velde 1980; Wright 1995; Yates 1989; Yentsch 1991). These various articles, in addition to those to be discussed in this chapter, suggest that one can nowtalk of a structuralist archaeology.

Yet why has the analysis of 'structured sets of differences' been so slowto arrive and so slight in impact? Why has structuralism never formed a major coherent alternative in archaeology? The first answer to these questions is that structuralism is not a coherent approach itself, since it covers a great variety of work, from the structural linguistics of Saussure, and the generative grammar of Chomsky, to the developmental psychology of Piaget and the analysis of 'deep' meanings by Levi-Strauss. In archaeology this variety is reflected in the differences between the formal analyses of Washburn (1983) and Hillier et al. (1976), the Piagetian accounts of Wynn (1979; and see Paddaya 1981), and the Levi-Strauss type of analyses conducted by Leroi-Gourhan (1965; 1982).

The second answer is that, linked to this variability, some structuralist approaches in archaeology could fit within processual archaeology, almost unnoticed, and working towards

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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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