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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers a critical review of the main research approaches focusing on the body and the notion of the person in archaeology. Particular emphasis is placed upon research trends that have emerged in the last thirty years, as this period witnessed the increasing importance of such themes in archaeological analysis. Initially, I discuss three research agendas that have approached the human body from a positivist viewpoint, largely drawing on research methodologies developed in the ‘hard sciences’ (i.e. bioarchaeology, processualism, and Darwinian and evolutionary archaeology). Secondly, I discuss approaches that tend to explore the person as both a social and a biological entity, thereby focusing on the socio-cultural practices through which past people were ‘constructed’ differently in different cultural contexts (i.e. postprocessualism and interpretative archaeology). In the final sections of the chapter I critically assess two major strands that have largely developed from this second framework, namely gender and personhood.

Keywords: bioarchaeology, biological bodies, constructivism, gender, personhood, positivism, social bodies

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