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Do you follow? Rethinking causality in archaeology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2019

Eloise Govier*
Affiliation:
University of WalesTrinity Saint David, UK

Abstract

Philosopher and physicist Karen Barad (2003; 2007; 2012) has brought a new understanding of causality to the academic discourse (agential realism theory). Inspired by this new take on causality, I problematize the argument that archaeologists ‘follow’ materials. I begin by challenging the act of ‘following’ on two counts (causality and universalism), and then consider the work of Malafouris (2008a) – a thinker whose ideas have the potential to remediate this issue through his examination of the ‘in-between’ humans and matter. I argue that, despite offering an inspirational approach to mind–matter relationships, the dialectical relationship he evokes remains problematic from a Baradian perspective as it is still rooted in ‘following’. I suggest that Barad’s agential realism offers a valuable conceptual framework for researchers who are weary of ‘unilateral’ linear causality and keen to move beyond dialectical thinking (Barad 2007, 214).

Type
Provocation
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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