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Posthumanism in Archaeology: An Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 May 2021

Manuel Fernández-Götz
School of History, Classics and Archaeology University of Edinburgh William Robertson Wing Old Medical School Teviot Place EdinburghEH8 9AGUK Email:
Andrew Gardner
University College London Institute of Archaeology 31–34 Gordon Square LondonWC1H 0PYUK Email:
Guillermo Díaz de Liaño
School of History, Classics and Archaeology University of Edinburgh William Robertson Wing Old Medical School Teviot Place EdinburghEH8 9AGUK Email:
Oliver J.T. Harris
Archaeology and Ancient History University of Leicester University Road LeicesterLE1 7RHUK Email:


Posthumanism is a growing field of interdisciplinary study that has emerged, principally in the last 20 years, as a broad church which seeks to reconceptualize human beings’ relationships with the world. At its heart, Posthumanism seeks to destabilize and question the category of ‘human’, which it sees as having previously been treated as transcendent and ahistorical. In its place, the figure of the posthuman aims to capture the complex and situated nature of our species’ existence, outside traditional dichotomies like culture and nature, mind and body, person and environment, and so on. From animal studies (e.g. Despret 2016; Wolfe 2009), via a rekindled attention to the material world (Coole & Frost 2010) to the cutting edge of quantum physics (Barad 2007), Posthumanism draws on a diverse range of inspiration (Ferrando 2019). This diversity also covers a significant internal dissonance and difference, with some posthumanists taking relational approaches, others arguing for the essential qualities of things, some focusing primarily on material things without humans and others calling for explicitly feminist investigations.

Special Section: Debating Posthumanism in Archaeology
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

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