Performing the Practice Turn in Archaeology

  • Philipp W. Stockhammer (Author)
    Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Vorderasiatische Archäologie

Identifiers (Article)


Many strands of archaeology have not succeeded in disentangling the complex relationship between humans and things. They are based on the anthropocentric notion that the relationship between humans and things is guided by human intentionality and conceptualized from a human perspective. Within the last few years, material culture studies and workplace studies have demonstrated how objects can trigger practices or have an agency of their own. These studies have empirically applied Pierre Bourdieu’s habitus concept and Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory. In my view, it is time to extend the practice turn of culture studies and social anthropology to archaeology. This should not lead archaeologists to dismiss previous approaches but should encourage them to supplement them with additional insights. Humans and objects are connected by complex entanglements which are based on a mutual dependence. Humans use objects with multiple intentions, but at the same time feel that things move or prompt them to act. Humans communicate through objects but also with objects in the context of social practices. I argue for the transformative power of the human-thing-entanglement within processes of appropriation by drawing on contextual analyses of Aegean-type pottery in the Southern Levant in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages.


Academic discipline and sub-disciplines
Archaeology, Cultural Studies
Archaeology, Practice Turn, Human-Thing-Entanglement, Cultural Encounter
How to Cite
Stockhammer, P. W. (2012). Performing the Practice Turn in Archaeology. The Journal of Transcultural Studies, 3(1), 7–42.