How do we balance the act of interpretation with the ambiguities of pre- or proto-historic archaeological material?
In my upcoming Ph.D. project, I will examine what iconographic depictions of the body from the entire first millennium CE in parts of what is now Norway can tell us about how personhood was regulated through the body, and how changes in such depictions can also inform us about changes in conceptions of personhood. Contemporary written sources are few and far between during this time, and the material therefore represents the primary insight into the period. The interpretation of personhood, being such an abstract social machine, therefore is complicated by a dependence on present-day theorisation. This lays bare the palimpsest of past and present that archaeological knowledge production necessarily involves. I express a mistrust in this process, of binding material with descriptive text, stemming from the transformation involved in this process. That is, in the familiarisation of an alien object. This unease does not mean that I want to abolish description, but rather that my aim is to devise a framework which disrupts the conformity of stable concepts such as that of the “person”, making the ever-transient act of archaeological interpretation an explicit facet of my framework.