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The symmetries and asymmetries of human–thing relations. A dialogue

  • Ian Hodder and Gavin Lucas

This paper presents a dialogue about the question of symmetry and asymmetry in human–thing relations, and the links between such asymmetries and those encountered in power relations amongst humans. The conversation discusses various issues, such as whether symmetry is possible in any kind of relation, how one defines asymmetry, whether there are different kinds of asymmetry, and how inequality between humans is related to the asymmetries in human–thing entanglements. The last issue is considered especially important in light of the various critiques that have been levelled at actor networks and other relational materialisms for their weakened political stance insofar as sources of inequality and injustice are so widely distributed that they become, in effect, apolitical.

Corresponding author
*Ian Hodder, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. Email:
Gavin Lucas, Department of Archaeology, University of Iceland, Iceland. Email:
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Archaeological Dialogues
  • ISSN: 1380-2038
  • EISSN: 1478-2294
  • URL: /core/journals/archaeological-dialogues
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