A double subjectivity in experimental archaeology

This post concerns John Clark and James Woods’ recently published chapter in Michael Shott’s edited volume Works in Stone (2015). The chapter is arguably one of the most important and insightful reflections on the “human side of replication experiments” to be published in recent years. Their discussion is structured around 4 experimental case studies through which Clark and Woods explore the nature of objective and subjective knowledge production in experimental archaeology. What is perhaps most profound about this chapter are the authors’ deeply personal reflections on the practice(s) of experimental archaeology, and the introspective insights that emerge from these reflections. With a return to a materialistic foci in many social sciences (see Sørensen 2015), archaeological practice and experimental archaeology (material culture in practice) are at the forefront in discussions about how humans structure their worlds around objects. In turn, experimental archaeology is being shaped by a new generation of practitioners who are confronting the challenges of a revitalized adolescence in archaeological science (see Killick 2015). This practice of internal reflection and outward introspection structure the double subjectivity in experimental archaeology.

It is in this context that I feel the Clark and Woods chapter is as thought-provoking and compelling a statement on the “objective production of subjective knowledge” as is currently available.

Clark and Woods paper available through the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0OJeZBk3HfudmJnQ0lHV3d6UXc/view?usp=sharing


Killick, D. 2015. The awkward adolescence of archaeological science. Journal of Archaeological Science. Pages to follow

Sørensen, M.L.S. . 2015. ‘Paradigm lost’-on the state of typology within archaeological theory. In Paradigm Found: Archaeological Theory Present, Past and Future, edited by K. Kristiansen, L. Šmejda and J. Turek. Oxford: Oxbox Books. Pages: 84-95.