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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The relational properties of hunter-gatherer lifeworlds constitute a productive arena for exploring constructs of personhood and social relations. As personhood emerges from perceptual and reflexive interrelations with the world, all relations can be seen as social. This chapter outlines the theoretical contours of personhood reviewing its unstable, culturally contingent, and historical conditions. Melanesian notions of the dividual and partible personhood have proved particularly influential and highlight the shifting nature of embodied and corporeal identity. The boundaries between animals, humans, and others are ambiguously drawn and archaeological material, primarily from Mesolithic Europe, illustrates the permeability of anthropological constructs. Personhood is also a process and a focus on age and the life course offers a framework to situate its mutable properties for individual biographies. Agency is often ambiguously drawn at particular times and metaphorical models are discussed in relation to the child, and other dimensions of sociality worth further examination are highlighted.

Keywords: individual, identity, agency, Mesolithic, life course, child

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