York Seminar: The case for an affective archaeology

Two students looking at reproduction paintings of Neolithic wall art.

Monday 14 October 2019, 12.00PM to 13:00

Speaker(s): Dr Sara Perry

In recent years, the so-called ‘affective turn’ has manifested itself in different forms across the humanities and social sciences. Yet arguably owing to the divergences and frailties in affect theory itself, its applications to archaeology are still quite narrow. Here I argue that an affective approach to archaeology - grounded in a commitment to socially-just interpretative practice - is imperative for addressing the discipline’s persistent methodological weaknesses. These weaknesses see archaeologists relying on flawed procedures for gathering, interpreting and archiving the archaeological record which perpetuate and further concretise masculinist and colonialist biases and related systemic power imbalances (after Canning 2018). An affective practices approach, on the other hand, offers a contextual and dynamic model for doing, recording, publicising and archiving archaeology. I outline the possible components of such an approach and the essential role that digital media have in its success. Currently these media are heavily implicated in the discipline’s structural divides, yet they also offer means to break free in order to design more responsive and responsible archaeological practices.



Canning, Erin, 2018. Affective Metadata for Object Experiences in the Art Museum. Unpublished Master of Museum Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto.

Location: King's Manor, K/133

Admission: FREE