I have reviewed Ian Hodder’s new book on humans and things in latest issue of Critical Quarterly. It’s a fascinating book that makes an interesting contribution to all this talk of things. I have wondered how archaeologists like Hodder respond to the sway towards new materialities in the humanities. Hodder is often associated with post-processional archaeology which makes him an excellent intermediary between the practice of archaeological analysis and European philosophical traditions which tend to underpin Speculative Realism, object-orientated philosophies and ontologies.
Hodder argues that things have shaped us and given us discipline over time, working our bodies and cohering our actions. Things govern our behaviour and ‘this dependence draws humans in, sometimes seems to lock them in, to specific forms of behavior – a human behavior adjusted to, even at times regulated by the behavior of things’ (p.69). It is this dependence on things and dependence of things upon humans that underlies what Hodder calls ‘entanglement’ and allows it to unfurl into the past and future, the small and the all encompassing. Subscribers to Critical Quarterly can read the full review here.