Archaeological Posthumanities: Feminist Re-invention of Science and Material Pasts

  • Christina Fredengren


This paper deals with how post-humanism may change how to approach archaeological bodies, through an engagement with biomolecular sciences. For example, isotope analysis can be used to trace the interchange between body and environment and hence provides an insight into what could be called the archaeological landscape within the body. This landscape is a situated gathering of different materialities, temporalities and relations. Also, archaeological bodies can be captured as enabling or restricting figurations, and there is a need to carry on critical discussions about essentialist understanding of scientific results. Furthermore, such discussions can also feed into how post humanism to engage in discussions of “deep time” entanglements in the bodies, that may project life/death nexuses in unexpected ways, stitching through past/present/futures.

Key words

Archaeology Deep Time Figurations Biomolecular Life/Death Landscape Environment Temporality 


  1. Adler, Christina J., Keith Dobney, Laura S. Weyrich, John Kaidoinis, Alan W. Walker, Wolfgang Haak, Corey J.A. Bradshaw et al. 2013. Sequencing ancient calcified dental plaque shows changes in oral microbiota with dietary shifts of the neolithic and industrial revolutions. Nature Genetics 45:450–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alaimo, Stacy. 2010. Bodily natures: Science, environment, and the material self. Indiana: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Alberti, Benjamin, Andrew M. Jones, and Joshua Pollard eds. 2013. Archaeology after interpretation: returning materials to archaeological theory. Walnut: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  4. Åsberg, Cecilia. 2005. Genetiska föreställningar: Mellan genus och gener i populär/vetenskapens visuella kulturer. Linköping: Linköpings Universitet.Google Scholar
  5. Barad, Karen. 2007. Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barad, Karen. 2012. Nature’s queer performativity. Kvinder, Køn & Forskning 1–2: 25–53.Google Scholar
  7. Braidotti, Rosi. 1994. Nomadic subjects: Embodiment and sexual difference in contemporary feminist theory. New York: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Braidotti, Rosi. 2002. Metamorphoses: Towards a materialist theory of becoming. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  9. Braidotti, Rosi. 2011. Nomadic theory: The portable Rosi Braidotti. New York and Chichester: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Braidotti, Rosi. 2013. The posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, Terry, and Keri Brown. 2011. Biomolecular archaeology. An Introduction. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Butler, Judith. 1999 [1990]. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Cassel, Kerstin. 2011. I genernas spår. Globala nätverk eller lokala isolat? In Förmodern Globalitet: Essäer om rörelse, möten och fjärran ting under 10 000 år, eds. Anders Andrén, 229–244. Lund: Nordic Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2009. The climate of history: Four theses. Critical Inquiry 35(Winter 2009):197–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Damm, Charlotte. 2012. Interactions within and between collectives: Networking in northern Fennoscandia. In Networks, interaction and emerging identities in Fennoscandia and beyond. Proceedings from the International and multidisciplinary conference in Tromsø 13–16 Oct 2009. Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 265, eds. Charlotte Damm, and Janne Saarikivi, 125–138. Helsinki: University of Helsinki Press.Google Scholar
  16. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1988. A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. London: The Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dommasnes, Liv H., Tove Hjørungdal, Sandra Montón-Subías, Margarita S Romero.ánchez, and Nancy L. Wicker eds. 2010. Situating gender in European archaeologies. Budapest: Archaeolingua.Google Scholar
  18. Draus-Barini, Jolanta, Susan Walsh, Ewelina Pospiech, Tomasz Kupiec, Henryk Glab, Wojciech Branicki, and Manfred Kayser. 2013. Bona fide colour: DNA prediction of human eye and hair colour from ancient and contemporary skeletal remains. Investigative Genetics 4(3):1–15.Google Scholar
  19. Eriksson, Gunilla. 2013. Stable isotope analysis of humans. In The Oxford handbook of the archaeology of death and burial, eds. Sarah Tarlow, and Liv Nilsson Stutz, 123–146. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Fahlander, Fredrik. 2012. Facing gender. Corporeality, materiality, intersectionality and resurrection. In To Tender Gender. The Pasts and Futures of Gender Research in Archaeology, Ing-Marie Back Danielsson, and Susanne Thedéen, eds. 137–152. Stockholm: Stockholm University.Google Scholar
  21. Fowler, Chris. 2010. From identity and material culture to personhood and materiality. In The Oxford handbook of material culture studies, eds. Mary C. Beaudry, and Dan Hicks, 352–385. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Fredengren, Christina. 2013. Posthumanism, the transcorporeal and biomolecular archaeology. Current Swedish Archaeology 21: 53–71.Google Scholar
  23. Fredengren, Christina. 2016. Unexpected Encounters with Deep Time Enchantment. Bog Bodies, Crannogs and ‘Otherworldly’ sites. The materializing powers of disjunctures in time. World Archaeology 48(4): 482–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gilchrist, Roberta. 2009. Rethinking later medieval masculinity: The male body in death. In Mortuary practices and social identities in the middle ages: Essays in burial archaeology in honour of Heinrich Härke, eds. Duncan Sayer, and Howard M.R. Williams, 236–252. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.Google Scholar
  25. Grosz, Elizabeth. 2004. The nick of time: Politics, evolution, and the untimely. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haraway, Donna. 1991. Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. In Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature, eds. Donna Haraway, 183–201. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  27. Haraway, Donna. 2008. When species meet. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  28. Harris, Oliver J.T., and John Robb. 2012. Multiple ontologies and the problem of the body in history. American Anthropologist 114(4): 668–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hebsgaard, Martin B., Thomas P. Gilbert, Jette Arneborg, Patricia Heyn, Morten E. Allentoft, Michael Bunce, Kasper Munch, Charles Schweger, and Eske Willerslev. 2009. ‘the farm beneath the sand’ – an archaeological case study on ancient ‘dirt’ DNA. Antiquity 83:430–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Insoll, Timothy. 2006. Reader in the archaeology of identities. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Jones, Siân. 1997. The archaeology of ethnicity: Constructing identities in the past and in the present. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Joyce, Rosemary. 2000. Gender and power in prehispanic Mesoamerica. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  33. Joyce, Rosemary, and Lynn Meskell eds. 2003. Embodied lives: Figuring ancient Maya and Egyptian experience. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Kjellström, Anna. 2005. The urban farmer: Osteoarchaeological analysis of skeletons from medieval Sigtuna interpreted in a socioeconomic perspective. Stockholm: Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University.Google Scholar
  35. Kristiansen, Kristian. 2004. Genes versus agents: a discussion on the widening theoretical gap in archaeology. Archaeological Dialogues 11(2): 77–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lucas, Gaving. 2012. Understanding the archaeological record. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lykke, Nina. 2010. Feminist studies: A guide to intersectional theory, methodology and writing. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. McClintock, Anne. 1995. Imperial leather: Race, gender and sexuality in the colonial contest. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. M’charek, Amade. 2000. Technologies of population: Forensic DNA testing practices and the making of differences and similarities. Configurations 8:121–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. M’charek, Amade. 2010. Fragile differences, relational effects: Stories about the materiality of race and sex. European Journal of Women’s Studies 17(4): 307–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meindl, Richard S., C. Owen Lovejoy, Robert P. Mensforth, and Lydia Don Carlos. 1985. Accuracy and determination of error in the sexing of the skeleton: Implications for paleodemography. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 68: 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nilsson, Tage, Torstein Sjøvold, and Stig Welinder. 1979. The mesolithic skeleton from Store Mosse, Scania. Acta Archaeologica 49:220–238.Google Scholar
  43. Nordbladh, Jarl, and Tim Yates. 1990. This perfect body, this virgin text: Between sex and gender in archaeology. In Archaeology after structuralism eds. Ian Bapty, and Tim Yates, 222–239. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Oliveira, Hugo. 2008. Molecular biology and the human past. A theory of archaeogenetics. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 23(1): 109–126.Google Scholar
  45. Olsen, Bjørnar. 2010. In defense of things. Archaeology and the ontology of objects. London: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  46. Pollard, A. Mark, and Peter Bray. 2007. A bicycle made for two? The integration of scientific techniques into archaeological interpretation. Annual Review of Anthropology 36: 245–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Renfrew, Colin, and Boyle, Katie eds. 2000. A bicycle made for two? The integration of scientific techniques into archaeological interpretation. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.Google Scholar
  48. Schulting, Rick J., and Michael P. Richards. 2002. The wet, the wild and the domesticated: The mesolithic-neolithic transition on the West Coast of Scotland. European Journal of Archaeology 5: 147–89.Google Scholar
  49. Shennan, Stephen. 2002. Genes, memes and human history: Darwinian archaeology and cultural evolution. London: Thames and Hudson.Google Scholar
  50. Skoglund, Pontus, Jan Storå, Anders Götherström, and Mattias Jakobsson. 2013. Accurate sex identification of ancient human remains using DNA shotgun sequencing. Journal of Archaeological Science 40: 4477–4482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sofaer, Joanna R. 2006. The body as material culture: A theoretical osteoarchaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Solli, Britt. 2011. Some reflections on heritage and archaeology in the Anthropocene. Norwegian Archaeological Review 44(1): 40–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sørensen, Marie Louise Stig. 1995. Reading dress. The construction of social categories and identities in bronze age Europe. Journal of European Archaeology 5: 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sørensen, Tim Flohr. 2013. We have never been latourian: Archaeological ethics and the posthuman condition. Norwegian Archaeological Review 46(1): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Taylor, Royal Ervin. 1987. Radiocarbon Dating: An archaeological perspective. Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  56. Webmoor, Timothy, and Christopher L. Witmore. 2008. Things are us! A commentary on human/things relations under the banner of a ‘social archaeology’. Norwegian Archaeological Review 41(1): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Welinder, S. 2003. DNA, etnicitet, folk och folkvandringar. Göteborg: Bricoleur Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Archaeological Research LaboratoryStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations