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date: 25 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The term ‘personhood’ refers to the state or condition of being a person. Studies of personhood investigate how persons emerge from specific ways of being in the world, and consider personhood and concepts of the person to be socially and culturally varied. This article explores the development of studies of personhood mainly in anthropology and archaeology in the context of previous and ongoing studies of identity and material culture. In so doing it seeks to demonstrate the importance of relationships between personhood and materiality — a term referring to the material character of the world at large, regardless of it being ‘cultural’ or ‘natural’. This article begins by outlining the development of studies of social and cultural identity, and explores the role played by material culture in these studies. This article also examines personhood as a specific axis of identity, and explores the integral relation between concepts of personhood and conceptions of materiality.

Keywords: identity, personhood, studies of identity, social identity, cultural identity, materiality

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