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Material Agency

Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Approach

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  • © 2008


  • The theory of agency is an important one in the social sciences and has always been assumed to be anthropocentric

  • This collection of archaeologists, anthropologists, sociologists and other social scientists use their understanding of agency to demonstrate that material culture or non-human entities also have agency

  • Includes supplementary material:

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About this book

Agency is a key theme that cross-cuts a wide raft of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and beyond; yet it is invariably discussed separately behind closed disciplinary doors.

Within archaeology, agency has been characterized as a uniquely human attribute, and a means of incorporating individual intentionality into theoretical discourse. In other domains, however, notions of non-human and ‘material’ agency have been finding currency, and it is our aim to introduce some of these themes into archaeology and develop a non-anthropocentric approach to agency.

It is anticipated that such a perspective will not only help us achieve more convincing interpretations of the past, giving a more active role to material culture, but also throw new light on the changing role of artifacts in the present and the future.

This book is a groundbreaking attempt to address questions of non-human and material agency from a wide range of perspectives and disciplines: archaeology, anthropology, sociology, cognitive science, philosophy, and economics. The editors and authors demostrate that a distributed, relational approach to agency, incorporating both humans and artifacts, has important ramifications for how we understand material culture.

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Table of contents (12 chapters)

Editors and Affiliations

  • University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

    Carl Knappett

  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

    Lambros Malafouris

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Material Agency

  • Book Subtitle: Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Approach

  • Editors: Carl Knappett, Lambros Malafouris

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer New York, NY

  • eBook Packages: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, Philosophy and Religion (R0)

  • Copyright Information: Springer-Verlag US 2008

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-387-74710-1Published: 19 September 2008

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-1-4419-4512-9Published: 05 November 2010

  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-387-74711-8Published: 15 December 2008

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XX, 256

  • Number of Illustrations: 49 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Philosophy of Science, Archaeology, Anthropology, Cultural Heritage

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