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Archaeologies of Materiality by Lynn Meskell

By Lynn Meskell

Drawing on social idea and delivering various case experiences, Archaeologies of Materiality is among the first books to discover materiality throughout time and area.

  • Demonstrates the saliency of materiality by means of linking it to recommendations of panorama, expertise, embodiment, ritual, and background.
  • Offers archaeological case stories starting from prehistoric to modern contexts, from Neo-Assyria, South Africa, Argentina, Panama, and the U.S..
  • Explores the assumption of a cloth universe that's socially conceived and developed, yet that still shapes human adventure in day-by-day perform.

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Magic Presents More Than It Represents6 The magical object is nothing less than confounding; like Marx’s table, it is “an apparition of a strange creature: at the same time Life, Thing, 22 M AGICAL S ENSE AND A POTROPAIC F IGURINE W ORLDS Beast, Object, Commodity, Automaton – in a word, specter” (Derrida 1994:152). Like that other odd Table-thing, the magical object presents: the contradiction of automatic autonomy, mechanical freedom, technical life. Like every thing, from the moment it comes onto the stage of a market, the table resembles a prosthesis of itself.

Magic surely presents something beyond the reach of representational or functional interpretations and thus demands a different perspective. What is required is an evocation of magic that aims directly at the caesura between meaning and matter and delves into the shadowy processes of materializing experience, belief, and value. Perhaps it is not surprising that archaeology, with only material traces of human activity to work with, has left the critical study of magic to other disciplines. It is revealing that “magic” is generally invoked as an explanation for those slippery things, processes, and occurrences that our rational and linguistic varieties of logic can’t quite master.

I have intimated that such material gestures disclose a magic technology as a symbolic and sensual logic that conspires with and against conventional value-producing forms. The question now becomes one of how this material reality presents protection. I would suggest that in the context of apotropaic performance, a material economy that produces a miniature, hybrid, and hidden reality anchors and accomplishes an experience of human mastery. Furthermore, this suite of gestures skillfully sustains the belief in divine power and order through a cunning reversal.

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