Posted by: Johan Normark | December 8, 2022

“New article”

I have not updated this blog for over four years. There are plenty of reasons for that. However, here is an article that has been published this year. It was scheduled for publication many years ago (based on a conference paper presented nine years ago).

Posted by: Johan Normark | August 15, 2018

Settlement topology

New article published in an anthology called Urban Variation.

Posted by: Johan Normark | May 21, 2018

Annual update (sort of)

I have not written a blog post for almost one year. Here is a short update of what has happened during that time. 

Eventually two conference proceeding articles written years ago seems to be published this year. Although that has not affected my current work situation it is nice that they finally disappear from “in press” status. Before summer I hope to submit two other articles and edit 5-6 other articles that will be submitted in the fall.

Last year we went to Indonesia and Malaysia again, swam with two whale sharks and dozens of turtles in the Derawan archipelago east of Borneo. Before that we visited West Timor and Rote. We ended the trip with a few days in Kuala Lumpur so our son could practice some badminton which has become his main activity. 

I hope next update comes a little sooner…


Posted by: Johan Normark | June 12, 2017

Hydrosocial becomings

Edinburgh University Press has a series of edited books called Deleuze Connections. They apply Deleuzian ideas on a specific topic with the formula “Deleuze AND…”. I will be contributing with a text to a book entitled Deleuze and Evolutionary Theory and it will include chapters from some well known Deleuzian philosophers. My text is called “Hydrosocial becomings: Evolutionary perspectives on water assemblages and Maya kingship”. 

Posted by: Johan Normark | April 27, 2017


The main destination during our trip to China was Chongqing, which is our son’s city of birth. We had not been there since December 2008. This city is located at the intersection of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. Here are some images from this huge city (8.5 million people live in the city proper).

The photos of the bridge is shot from a location called Hongya Cave

Some miscellaneous photos from Chongqing.

Posted by: Johan Normark | March 8, 2017

Wulong Karst

I recently came back from a trip to China. During our stay my wife, son, and I visited Wulong Karst which is located in the world’s largest municipality, Chongqing in China. Its main features are the Three Natural Bridges which have been named after dragons. The first one you enter as a tourist is actually a double arch (Sky Dragon Bridge). The arches are between 96 and 116 m in height and they span between 28 and 34 m in width.

You enter the entire karst system through an elevator that takes you down to the bottom of a gorge. Then you descend below the Sky Dragon Bridge. On one of the walls there is an “elephant”-like formation.

At the bottom of this first bridge is a set of buildings built in 2006 for the movie Curse of the Golden Flower. They are built in Tang style.

Not far from these buildings is a statue of a transformer since scenes for Transformers 4 was shot here (there is another transformer at the entrance of the park as well, before the elevator). Here is one of the scenes filmed at this location. There is a small waterfall near this statue.

The next bridge is called Green Dragon Bridge and after that follows the longest of them, Black Dragon Bridge. There is a tiny waterfall here. By the end of the trail there is a pool of water.

Posted by: Johan Normark | February 8, 2017

Settlement topology

I have uploaded the final version of my contribution to an anthology in two volumes that soon will be available. Most of this text was written three-four years ago as the proceedings from the symposium Urban Variation: Utopia, Planning and Practice. My text focus on what I call settlement topology which makes use of Deleuze’s and DeLanda’s concept of assemblage. 

Posted by: Johan Normark | November 1, 2016

Objects as subjects

Yesterday I read an interesting article that pretty much falls into my current trajectory. The article is “The perfect subject (postcolonial object studies)” by Severin Fowles. Since it was published earlier this year in Journal of Material Culture I had missed it since I have strayed away from topics concerning both “material” and “culture” for the past decade or so. For a while I looked into object oriented ontologies (OOO) and tried to apply them on archaeological data with various successes. However, when I attempted to apply it on Maya caves I found that I had very little use of OOO other than in a general sense. This has pushed me in another direction which does not disqualify the previous position altogether (more on that another time). However, I have become more and more dissatisfied with the “Speculative turn’s” tendency to treat objects as oppressed subjects (particularly in archaeology). Fowles’s article explains how we have reached this point. Here is the abstract:

“This article argues that the late 20th-century tradition of material culture studies, as well as its more recent object-oriented offspring, emerged as a response to the 1980s crisis of representation and the deeper postcolonial critiques that accompanied this crisis. As it became more and more difficult to study and make claims about non-Western people, anthropologists and scholars in related disciplines began to explore the advantages of treating non-human objects as quasi-human subjects. Things proved safer to study than people and the popularity of ‘thing theory’ grew, at least in part, for this very reason. More importantly, the analytical shift of focus from people to things had the effect of salvaging – and, indeed, greatly amplifying – the representational authority of Western scholars at the precise moment when that authority seemed to be evaporating.”

Basically, then, “when the West lost its ability to write about non-Western people however it liked, non-humans surfaced as surrogate objects of study” (Fowles 2016:25).

Posted by: Johan Normark | September 29, 2016

Orienting West Mexico

Later today I shall attend Peter Jimenez’s final seminar for his dissertation thesis entitled Orienting West Mexico: The Mesoamerican World-System 2001200 CE. This will be the third dissertation thesis on Mesoamerica from my department.

The article “The Chicxulub impact and its different hydrogeological effects on Prehispanic and Colonial settlement in the Yucatan peninsula” can now be found here. I will probably make it open-access in the near future if I get the funds to do that.

Posted by: Johan Normark | August 30, 2016

The ontogenesis of ontologies

I am currently writing a text on Descola’s ontologies and how they relate to Maya cave studies. This will be a significant departure from my previous focus on emergence (or ontogenesis in this case). Descola has been described as a neostructuralist but I see no major obstacles in transforming his “rigid” ontological schema into something processual. 

This text is also one of several articles that create a frame for a new project preliminary entitled “The ontogenesis of ontologies”. In its current state the project will focus on long-term changes in settlement and land use in the Maya area related to Descola’s schemas of practice. It will also problematize the concepts of resilience and sustainability.

My article “The Chicxulub impact and its different hydrogeological effects on Prehispanic and Colonial settlement in the Yucatan peninsula” has been accepted for publication in WIREs water. Here is the abstract:

The Chicxulub impact ~66 million years ago and subsequent geological processes have created different hydrogeological regimes in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. These regimes have affected settlement patterns on local and regional scales. This study focuses on the intersection between three of these regimes; the Buried Ejecta within Saline Intrusion Zone, the Albion Formation and the Ticul Fault Zone. Lake Chichancanab is located in the intersection between these zones. The Prehispanic settlement east of Chichancanab, in the Cochuah region, is distributed evenly whereas the Colonial period settlement of the same area largely stays within the Buried Ejecta within Saline Intrusion Zone. Colonial socioeconomic conditions and the Church limited the Spanish control of the Cochuah region, partially because groundwater access became increasingly more important during the Colonial period.

Posted by: Johan Normark | June 2, 2016

New article – Multi-scalar cognitive time

The final version of my article “Multi-scalar cognitive time: Experiential time, known time, and Maya calendars” has just been published in Quaternary International. It is part of a special issue called: The material dimensions of cognition: Reconsidering the nature and emergence of the human mind.

Posted by: Johan Normark | May 10, 2016

Ipoh and Pulau Pangkor

After our trip on Sumatra in 2014 we took a flight from Medan to Kuala Lumpur and headed directly to the city of Ipoh north of KL. Surrounding the town are some impressive Chinese Buddhist temples inside caves. The reason why the flags are at half-mast is because the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 had been shot down in Ukraine the day before we entered Malaysia.

After Ipoh we spent a few days on Pulau Pangkor. The island was largely covered in haze. If you want to see hornbills, this is the place to visit (no, these are not toucans as many tourists believe).

Posted by: Johan Normark | April 13, 2016


It turns out I have not blogged about my travels since October 17, 2013. Since the summer of 2013 I have been back to Indonesia and Malaysia twice, Thailand, China and India. I will write some blogposts about these trips in the next couple of weeks. However, they will not contain much specific information. 

In the summer of 2014 me wife, son and I first went to Bali, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan before we headed to Jakarta to continue to Medan on Sumatra. A few hours ride from there lies Bukit Lawang where one can trekk and spot orangutans. The bath afterwards was cool.

From Bukit Lawang we went to Berastagi where there are hot baths and the nearby volcano Sinabung who had been erupting only a few weeks before. Later the same day we arrived at Lake Toba which probably was the highlight of this trip. Below are pictures of Batak houses and tombs.

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