Posted by: Johan Normark | November 24, 2010

Entrainment of materials, cognition, and gender in the Maya area

Although I have recently been granted funds for several projects these applications are now ancient history. Considering the amount of time one need to spend in creating a convincing project it is already time to look ahead and formulate a new project idea. Maybe I’ll come up with another idea later on depending on what I find out in my upcoming “water as archaeological material” project. Such a project could potentially focus on another geographical area, i.e. Southeast Asia.

However, it always easier to come up with an idea from data that you have a better grasp of. Before I decided to change my next project towards water I planned to make a neuroarchaeological study of the defacement of Maya art. I rejected that project idea and made it into a short article instead. But I still have an interest in the neuroarchaeological field and I wish to combine that with my old idea of “genderized calendars”, that is, how the Classic period calendric inscriptions reflected gender relations in Maya royal courts. In order to increase the scope of the project I also wish to focus on the entrainment of various temporal rhythms, materials and past activities as known from the iconographic record of the Maya area.

Before I get to familiarize myself with various perspectives of temporalities I will maintain Deleuze’s and Bergson’s monistic ontologies where everything is part of the same emergent whole which means that materials of a certain metric duration, such as the use-life of a building, can be entrained with that of a human life span. Materials and humans thereby form a heterogeneous assemblage. There are virtual processes continuing to work within these assemblages, making them more and more complex and asymmetrical. This takes us further away from the nature of pure duration. When we use these asymmetrical entities (artefacts, post holes, construction fill) to reconstruct temporal processes we can simply not set them in succession, but we must see them as parallel, entrained and nested with various temporal sequences. The traditional chronological table will not be sufficient here. The chronological table will be emptied from all its transcendent cultural content since it tends to constrain our thought into predefined directions established early in our discipline. Thus, instead of seeing the Classic period as a period with Classic period people and culture that did this and that because they were different from Formative people, we should focus on the meshing of various scales of oscillations that has emerged from a non-metric time. It is only the non-metric time that is continuous, not the cultures that have been defined from actual remains.

An initial study of this project idea is my upcoming gender article on the “road of life.” Here I may lay out the overall setting of the project.



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