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Identity, emotion and memory in Neolithic Dorset

Harris, Oliver. 2006. Identity, emotion and memory in Neolithic Dorset. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Dwelling and practice represent two of the most powerful approaches that have been developed in archaeology over recent years. Together they offer a way of thinking about the past that recognises bom the agency of past peoples and the way in which they are always situated within their worlds. Yet both these approaches can be accused of a certain essentialism: they often fail to consider the socially contextual nature of identity, emotion and memory and the vital importance of these to how people go about the business of living their lives. By incorporating understandings of embodiment, gender, personhood, conviviality, emotional geographies, social memory and forgetting, among other themes, this thesis is an attempt to redress that. The first half of the thesis is thus an explicitly theoretical engagement with these broad, complex, but vital topics. In order to further this argument the second half of the thesis then applies these understandings to a single extended case study over three chapters: the Neolithic of Dorset This detailed and in-depth examination of one part of the country between 4000 and 2200 cal BC allows both the importance, and the applicability, of this theoretical approach to be set out Through this case study new understandings of people, landscape, materiality and monuments will emerge. The intention is to offer complex and coherent narratives that interweave the rich evidence of Neolithic occupation from Dorset with a sophisticated theoretical understanding that will allow new understandings of this particular place and time to emerge. Without a serious attempt to consider how identity, emotion and memory may have been both important and different in the past, archaeology is doomed to produce a picture of prehistory that not only falls short, but also reflects and reifies the conditions of the present.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
ISBN: 9781303207617
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:15

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