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The Bioarchaeology of Postmortem Agency: Integrating Archaeological Theory with Human Skeletal Remains

  • John J. Crandall (a1) and Debra L. Martin (a2)

Abstract

Taking the social agency of dead bodies as its main theme, this introduction discusses the articles in this special section on the bioarchaeology of post-mortem agency and discusses theoretical concerns relevant to the (bio)archaeological analysis of agency. In particular, the argument that only biological living persons have social agency or impact the direction of social processes, or the decisions of others is challenged. The challenges of defining and archaeologically detecting such agency of past humans as well as socially alive entities such as ghosts, corpses, relics and totem heads are discussed. A review of the ways investigations of the agency of the dead might unify bioarchaeologists and further integrate social archaeology into future research is also presented. It is argued that a holistic anthropological approach to humans and their ability to impact their surroundings is not complete if the symbolic and material effects of the dead are not considered.

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The Bioarchaeology of Postmortem Agency: Integrating Archaeological Theory with Human Skeletal Remains

  • John J. Crandall (a1) and Debra L. Martin (a2)

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