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Sensorial Assemblages: Affect, Memory and Temporality in Assemblage Thinking

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2017

Yannis Hamilakis*
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University, 60 George Street, Providence, RI 02912, USA Email:


Archaeologists are familiar with the concept of assemblage, but in more recent years they have started problematizing it in interesting and innovative ways, beyond its common connotations of aggregation. Sociologists such as Manuel DeLanda and political philosophers such as Jane Bennett have been key influences in this move. These authors had adapted and modified the assemblage thinking of Deleuze and Guattari. In this article, an assemblage of sorts itself, I propose that we need to return to that original Deleuzian body of thinking and explore its richness further. Assemblages, temporary and deliberate heterogeneous arrangements of material and immaterial elements, are about the relationship of in-betweenness. I further suggest that sensoriality and affectivity, memory and multi-temporality are key features of assemblage thinking, and that assemblages also imply certain political effects. The omission of these features in the archaeological treatments of the concept may lead to mechanistic reincarnations of systems thinking, thus depriving the concept of its potential. Finally, I explore these ideas by considering communal eating and feasting events as powerful sensorial assemblages.

Special Section: Archaeology and Assemblage
Copyright © McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2017 

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