By Robert W. Preucel

This booklet explores the a number of ways that archaeologists supply aspiring to the previous, highlighting debates over the ontological and epistemological prestige of the self-discipline and comparing present responses to those matters. Explains why absolute foundations in archaeology are insufficient and appears on the choices. Highlights debates over the ontological and epistemological prestige of the self-discipline and evaluates present responses to those issues.Defines a brand new area for archaeological discourse and discussion.

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Semiotics emerged as a major focus in literature and cultural studies in the 1970s and 1980s. This can be largely attributed to the influence of the writings of Roland Barthes and Claude Lévi-Strauss some ten years earlier. In 1957, Barthes (1972) published Mythologies, his critique of bourgeois ideology. After completing it, he wrote that it was then that I first read Saussure; and having read Saussure, I was dazzled by this hope: to give my denunciation of the self-proclaimed petit-bourgeois myths the means of developing scientifically; this means was semiology or the close analysis of the processes of meaning by which the bourgeoisie converts its historical class-culture into universal nature; semiology appeared to me, then, in its program and its tasks, as the fundamental method of an ideological critique (Barthes 1988:5).

An influential theoretical perspective informing contemporary material culture studies is objectification. This is the view that in making things people make themselves in the process. Borrowing the idea from Hegel, Daniel Miller (1987:33) suggests that objectification is the foundation for a dialectical theory of culture. It merges the subject/object and individual/society dualities by insisting that both pairs of oppositions are as much constitutive of culture as constituted by it. Because it is not merely reflective, Miller does not consider it to be a process of signification.

This refers to words – ouaoua (French) or wauwau (German) – that sound like what they mean, in this case the barking of a dog. He dismisses onomatopoeia on three grounds – first, it is never an organic element of a linguistic system; second, it is far less common than popularly believed; and third, when it is introduced into a language, it undergoes essentially the same phonetic and morphological evolution as other words. The second seeming exception is the case of exclamations. These are words popularly thought to be spontaneous expressions.

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