Archaeology of Performance: Theaters of Power, Community, and Politics

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Performances in the premodern communities shaped identities, created meanings, generated and maintained political control. But unlike other social scientists, archaeologists have not worked much with these concepts. Archaeology of Performance shows how the notions of theatricality and spectacle are as important economics and politics in understanding how ancient communities work. Without sacrificing conceptual rigor, the contributors draw on the wide-ranging literature on performance. Without sacrificing material evidence, they try to see how performance creates meaning and ideology. Drawing on evidence from societies large and small, Archaeology of Performance offers an important new ways of understanding ancient theaters of power.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Schechner
From the theatres of Inka power and ancient Egyptian ceremonies to Mayan spectacles and an Anatolian “festival of death and consumption,” this book is exemplary of a new and powerful archeology of performance. Using the tools of archeology, forensics, and performance theory, the authors of this collection lucidly explore theatre, the performative body, and ritual. What theyfind is not a “dead past” but rich repositories of living performances. Archeology of Performance is a must read for scholars in performance and the social sciences. Artists, too, will learn from this pioneering book.
Helaine Silverman
expands archaeologists' long-term interest in ritual with critical scrutiny and theorization about the settings for public performance and performance-as-spectacle. In a global and temporally deep series of essays ranging from the 9500-year-old settlement at Catalhoyuk in central Turkey to Pueblo society of the U.S. southwest in the early 20th century, the ten contributing authors focus our attention on the theatrical characteristics of ritual and political spaces and their communicative qualities. The inter-referencing agreements and debates provide an unusual degree of dialogue among the chapters. Cleverly organized in "acts" and "scenes," the volume introduces the reader to an extensive, but previously diffuse, literature, which is deployed in highly creative analyses of substantial data sets. The many stimulating ideas put forth by the scholars will surely lead to "encore performances" by them and "raise the curtain" on a new generation of research in this highly dynamic, embodied, place-marking field. Emphasizing the negotiated construction of identity, constitution of community, production of memory, and contestation of power relations, will be widely read and applied in the study of social complexity and processes of political centralization.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759108776
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Series: Archaeology In Society Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Takeshi Inomata is an associate professor in anthropology at University of Arizona. Lawrence S. Coben is the director of Proyecto Inkallakta (Incallajta), a multidisciplinary project centered at the monumental Inka site of that name in central Bolivia.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Prologue Chapter 2 Prologue: Behind the Scenes: Producing the Performance Part 3 Act I: Concepts and Approaches Chapter 4 Scene 1: Overture: An Invitation to the Archaeological Theater Part 5 Act II: Senses, Spectacle, and Performance Chapter 6 Scene 2: "The Indians Were Much Given to Their Taquis": Drumming and Generative Categories in Ancient Andean Funerary Processions Chapter 7 Scene 3: The Spectacle of Daily Performance at Çatalhöyük Chapter 8 Scene 4: Representational Aesthetics and Political Subjectivity: The Spectacular in Urartian Images of Performance Chapter 9 Scene 5: Impersonation, Dance, and the Problem of Spectacle among the Classic Maya Part 10 Act III: Public Performance of Power and Community Chapter 11 Scene 6: Dancing Gods: Ritual, Performance, and Political Organization in the Prehistoric Southwest Chapter 12 Scene 7: Politics and Theatricality in Mayan Society Chapter 13 Scene 8: Other Cuzcos: Replicated Theaters of Inka Power Chapter 14 Scene 9: Public Ceremonial Performance in Ancient Egypt: Exclusion and Integration Chapter 15 Scene 10: Visible and Vocal: Sovereigns of the Early Merina (Madagascar) State Chapter 16 Index Chapter 17 About the Contributors

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