Creating Material Worlds: Theorising Identity in Archaeology

Cover for the Creating Material Worlds volume (Oxbow, 2016)‌‌This project, generously funded by the Chancellor's Fund of the University of Glasgow, challenges a diverse network of researchers to rethink one of the oldest assumptions in archaeology: that material culture can reveal the identity of past peoples. It is a fundamental issue repeatedly cited yet rarely explored in depth. By assembling specialists covering a wide array of time periods and geographical areas, we aim to establish a distinctly archaeological approach to identity by integrating novel approaches to objectification, materiality and personhood. Developed and led entirely by early career researchers affiliated with Archaeology at the University of Glasgow but representing five institutions in Europe and North America, the project will involve a dedicated website, a programme of seminars and a collaborative workshop culminating in a new edited volume on identity theory.

Research aims and objectives

This project aims to deconstruct the way archaeologists deal with identity, then reconstruct a new, distinctly archaeological approach by focusing on the creation, conception and consumption of material culture. Our objectives are threefold: first, to commission new research from emerging voices in the field; second, to promote discussion by way of lectures open to the public; and third, to consolidate and disseminate these advances through a peer-reviewed published volume.

The seminar series

In order to stimulate discussion and collaboration amongst the participating scholars as well as other research colleagues, we are presenting a series of six lectures during the autumn term 2012 on the theme of identity in archaeology, delivered by respected academics in the field. These weekly lectures will be open to all. With these lectures, we hope to expand and promote the discussion of identity theory in archaeology amongst students and interested parties. The programme and lecture abstracts will be made available on our project website.

The project volume

The series ended with a collaborative project workshop and the final version of the papers from the team have now been published by Oxbow Books as Creating Material Worlds: The Uses of Identity in Archaeology (2016), which can be purchased here. The volume includes a response and afterword by Prof. A. Bernard Knapp.

The CMW Team:

CMW Contributors:

  • John L. Creese, University of Cambridge
  • Jeremy Hayne, University of Glasgow
  • Oliver Harris, University of Leicester
  • Beatriz Marín-Aguilera, Complutense University of Madrid
  • Erin McGuire, University of Victoria
  • Dene Wright, University of Glasgow