Space: the final (archaeological) frontier? Rethinking the concept of space in settlement archaeology.

I have, with my colleague Benjamin Morton from Newcastle University, just submitted a session abstract for the TAG conference, which takes place in Bradford in December. We are hoping to host a session which explores innovative approaches to the issue of settlement space in archaeology. From a personal perspective I am keen to find contributors interested in drawing on non-representational and assemblage based approaches in human geography to explore archaeology space, but the session is open to a much wider range of contributions. If you are interested in contributing to this session, please get in touch (jervisb@cardiff.ac.uk).

The abstract for the proposed session is as follows:

Space: the final (archaeological) frontier? Rethinking the concept of space in settlement archaeology.

Settlement archaeology is the study of lived space, however, while archaeologists have given great thought to the temporal aspects of past life, they have under theorised the spatial.  Space is typically presented as fixed, passive, a container  or backdrop for the unfolding of history- the space of the phased plan or map, for example.

Contemporary approaches in archaeological theory and, particularly, in the field of human geography, have much to offer our analysis of lived and produced  settlement spaces, both interpretively and methodologically. In particular, they stress the socially produced nature of space and reject the longstanding dominance of the temporal over the spatial in critical social theory and history.

This session aims to explore, through the use of specific examples, how we can re-conceptualise settlement space in archaeology and what theoretical tools exist in order to achieve this aim. Areas for discussion may include, but not be limited to:

  • The exploration of settlements as more-than-spatial assemblages or actor-networks.
  • Analyses of concepts of space in the past through the use of historical records and maps.
  • The application of approaches drawn from other disciplines, including human geography.
  • Critical engagement with the notion of geographical scale, both as a analytical construct and as a material reality (or not) in the archaeological record.
  • ‘Practice’ and ‘experiential’ readings of space and ‘movement’.

Contributions are welcome from all areas and time periods, and contributions from scholars working in fields other than archaeology are particularly welcome.

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