Gavin Murray Lucas

Grant Type

Workshop Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Iceland, U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-882

Approve Date

March 23, 2022

Project Title

Lucas, Gavin (Iceland, U. of) "The Archaeology of Undoing"

The workshop seeks to explore the myriad ways in which things become undone. In the last two years, human worlds have experienced a series of ruptures from climate-related disasters, migration, political violence, and, above all, the Covid-19 pandemic. Doesn’t this mean we also need a theory of undoing? Or a theory of how things fall apart? Although there has been a lot of attention devoted to the productive dimensions of materiality and material culture as a coherent phenomenon ‘ making objects, building things, constructing identities ‘ the discourse around undoing is more fragmented. There are topics like ruins, death and destruction, but usually these are examined as separate issues. We will ask what connections or continuities can be discerned in practices of undoing by drawing them together under the idea of ‘unworlding’. On the one hand, ‘unworlding’ deals with obvious material traces such as abandoned and destroyed settlements, discarded and decaying object assemblages, and human remains that attest to violence and the social impact of death. On the other, it also relates to the falling apart of disciplinary traditions, discourses and assumptions – the ‘unworlding’ of archaeology itself. More broadly, we ask: what is the relation between the redemptive or affirmative and the destructive or negative dimensions of undoing?