Members of the Ruin Memories team participated in a session at the Nordic Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) in Reykjavik, Iceland, 21-25 April 2013
Gavin Lucas co-organised a session entitled “Practice-led Theory”
A number of archaeologists have started to question the easy importation of theory into archaeological interpretation and have suggested instead, we try and develop theory and interpretation from the particular nature of archaeological practice and the materials it engages with. In sister disciplines like anthropology and sociology, the ethnographic method has been celebrated as a key tool in challenging and re-thinking big concepts like modernity and consumption. In the same way, can we not argue that the archaeological method brings something new to the table? This is emphatically not about lamenting the status of archaeology as a borrower vis-a-vis other disciplines (a questionable position anyway), but rather about whatkind of science archaeology is. Nor is this a return to a naive empiricism, but rather about acknowledging the intimate relation between practice and theory. This session is principally about aligning and acknowledging more formally the practice of doing archaeology with the interpretative trajectories taken.
Tim Webmoor presented on “Archaeological Metrologies”
What archaeological practices enable objects to enter relations? This is a valuable insight of looker no further afield than to the particulars of doing archaeology. With the discipline’s strength being object-oriented, archaeology contributes empirical insight into how things are enrolled in larger assemblages to accomplish tasks, both past and present, big and small. At the same time, and in distinction to many disciplines concerned with matters of meaning, significance or social structure and agency, archaeological empirics beg the consideration of how the resistance of objects and their ‘thingliness’ disrupts the presumptive centrality and presumptive agency of practice. Simply put, practice does not exhaust a thing. This symmetry of things and relations moves attention to the inter-relatedness of objects, relations and practices. It asks: What are the ratios of agency and causality?; Or the ratios of qualities to relations in the ontology of things? Most importantly, it necessitates a metrology not predicated upon reductionism and modernist thought that splits wholes into parts. De-emphasizing ontological distinctions and categorization, qualities such as elemental durability, extension, weightiness, and compositional stability come to the fore of archaeological metrologies.
Bjørnar Olsen and Þóra Pétursdóttir organised a session entitled “Foregrounding Things: Forms and faults of representation”
Bjørnar Olsen presented “Foregrounding Things: Introduction”
Þóra Pétursdóttir presented “Aesthetization and ruin porn? A reply to the critique of ruin photography”