Globalization Theories in Archaeological Interpretations

EAA 2014 Istanbul logo

Alexander Geurds co-organized and presented in the recently held symposium on Globalization Theories in Archaeological Interpretations, a panel that formed part of the Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) organized in Istanbul, Turkey between September 10-14, 2014.

Geurds, co-organizer with Tamar Hodos (Bristol University), argues in this symposium that globalization theory, currently being one of the most potent theoretical frameworks for analysis cultural interaction at different spatial scales, can provide a means by which we can make sense of our socio-cultural connectivities, our differences, and the networks through which those connections are developed and maintained. For this reason, archaeological scholarship is increasingly using such perspectives to understand the transfer and development of knowledge, ideas and values, as seen through material culture. Most such studies focus on the shared characteristics suggested by the concept of globalization, however, often in bipolar contrast to evidence for local difference.

In contrast, the presentation in this panel  illustrated the potential of globalization theory to move beyond merely identifying the Local and Global in material culture analysis, this also being a concern for analyzing the material correlates of long-distance linguistic connections between distinct regions of Meso- Central, and Pacific South America. Consisting of several case studies from world archaeology, the papers presented and analysed the processes and networks of connectivities that underpin the ideas of globalization as seen in material culture, and revealed the social complexities of ‘global’ engagement in (pre)historic settings. Regions included Africa, parts of the Americas, east Asia, southeast Asia, west Asia, Australasia and Oceania, Europe, and the Mediterranean. Collectively, the presenters  addressed and redefined the paradigm itself in its application to past societies and material culture.

The findings from this symposium and Geurds’ investigations in the framework of the MesandLingk ERC Project, will culminate in a comprehensive volume (under contract with Routledge Publishers) in 2016.