Posted by: Johan Normark | May 6, 2013

New book project: Archaeology without culture

I have a lengthy article (16,500 words) that I submitted to an anthology several years ago. I highly doubt that this anthology ever will emerge so I have decided to expand the article, reincorporate 4,500 words of “killed darlings” and add a greater empirical section of the text that will discuss various features from the Cochuah region. This will therefore  result in a short book instead. I may also adapt the theoretical frame to better suit my current object-oriented perspective as the text mainly is based on DeLanda’s assemblage theory. So here is the tentative title and summary of this book: 

Archaeology without culture: Assembling the Maya Lowlands

 Archaeological cultures, such as the Maya culture, rely on tree-like or arborescent models where objects are ordered by essential, hierarchical, and transcendent principles. The overarching culture determines and signifies the identity and capacities of every single object. Other approaches that emphasize structuration between agent and society rely on similar arborescent models where emergence is reduced to the human agent acting in a seamless whole. Instead, an approach where the human agent becomes only one of several interacting components that form concrete assemblages of various scales is proposed. Deleuze’s ontology and DeLanda’s assemblage theory are used to outline a multi-scalar perspective that bridges the human and the non-human, heterogeneity and homogeneity, structure and agent. Objects are not defined by subordinate relations to humans or culture but by their capacities to exercise their properties in various assemblages in the Cochuah region of the Northern Maya Lowlands in Mexico.


  1. Estimado Johan,
    Creo que haces un uso poco reflexivo de las ontologías rizomáticas de Deleuze y DeLanda que leyeron muy mal (o no leyeron) a Chomsky. A su vez ambos utilizan una densa retórica posmoderna (posestructuralista si se quiere) que no creo que aporte mucho a las ciencias sociales y menos a la arqueología, te recomiendo que leas “Arboles y redes: Crítica del pensamiento rizomático (2012)” una excelente crítica hecha por uno de los mejores antropólogos contemporáneos en Latinoamérica, Carlos Reynoso.

    Josué Rodríguez,
    Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia (México).

  2. I answer in English. There may not be much rhizomes at the end of my book after all. It is basically DeLanda’s/Protevi’s/Bryant’s interpretations of Deleuze that I am interested in. In many respects they have already abandoned the terms rhizomes and arborescence in their work. Further, Bryant (and other object-oriented philosophers) have moved away from the process-relational approach that characterizes Deleuze, DeLanda and Protevi. However, what is missing in the object-oriented perspectives, as far as I can tell, is a thorough concern with time and morphogenetic processes (which archaeologists must emphasize).

    As for Chomsky, he is part of the linguistic turn and therefore not a major figure in the speculative turn. In my view, theories based in linguistics have little relevance to archaeology (as we have saw in the late 1980s/early 1990s when material culture was interpreted as text).


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