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action since in his view emotion is an obligate accompaniment of
behaviour that originates from our bodies (2000:58). Damasio (2000:174
for definitions) argues for a core and autobiographical self that are
components of consciousness and a proto-self we are not conscious of
(Figure 5.1). These core and autobiographical selfs are carried with us
but they differ between individuals because of those autobiographical
memories that mediate between core and autobiographical self (Bloch
1998; Wilson 2005). This last is the archive of accumulated memories
that constitute identity and help define personhood. Moreover, autobio-
graphical memory enchains those experiences encountered in the
territories of self during everyday life and these can be represented as
layers or sedimentation in the archive of an individual™s lifetime. The result
is extended consciousness, defined as ˜the capacity to be aware of a large
compass of entities and events, i.e. the ability to generate a sense of
individual perspective, ownership, and agency, over a larger compass of
knowledge than that surveyed in core consciousness (Damasio 2000:198)™.
Damasio (2000:198) emphasises the importance of language, reasoning
and ˜an even more ample endowment of memory™ for humans, while at
the same time believing that chimpanzees have an autobiographical
self but not extended consciousness. I would emphasise other factors to
explain the difference. The accumulated experiences of the autobiograph-
ical self make this extension possible in humans because of our ability,
using metaphor, to construct concepts from them. These experiences
The accumulation and enchainment of identity 119




figure 5.1. Three kinds of self as described by Damasio (2000:Table 7.1). The two
arrows leading towards the autobiographical self signify its dual dependency on
emotional pulses from the experiences of core consciousness and the continuous
revisiting of autobiographical memories.


are not just linguistic in origin but related to objects and bodies that
structure the performance of social life in interactions between small
numbers of people.


Self-interest
But what exactly is the link between objects and notions such as that of
the self? More to the point, why do archaeologists need to consider these
inner workings in their study of change?
A lead comes from anthropologist Marcel Mauss (Carrithers et al. 1985;
James and Allen 1998) who sought to unravel the history of the self by
discussing its sociological construction and its psychological inheritance.
120 Origins and Revolutions

table 5.3. Mauss™ categories of self and person (adapted from
Carrithers 1985)

Self awareness Theory of mind
Psychological Moi The self
Social Personne Person
Personnage Role, character, mask


To do this he separated what we call personhood, something we all possess,
into layers (Hollis 1985:221; La Fontaine 1985:124). First there is a human
being™s self-awareness, that inner theory of mind, which is a universal
property of our psychology (Table 5.3). Mauss saw this awareness as a fusion
of body and spirit and thus argued for a united rather than divided
personhood.
Second, there is the independent psychological category of self.
And finally, there is the social concept of the person that broadly equates
with individuality, everybody™s own interpretation of the universal condi-
tion of personhood that stems from self-awareness, located within the
structures of social life and informed by roles and categories.
Mauss also proposed a historical trajectory that started with pure
role without self and ended, in the modern world, with pure self without
role. Therefore:
the category of self emerges to replace the mere concept of self which went
before and each person now has his own self-ego, in keeping with the
various Declarations of Rights.
(Hollis 1985:220, my emphasis)

But what Mauss never told us was how the concept became the category of
self in the stark contrast he drew between personhood in the non-Western
and Western world. In fact, as philosopher Martin Hollis elegantly
showed (ibid. 1985:230), the category of self is found in Classical Greece,
much earlier than Mauss anticipated. Nor can such historical divisions
be replicated in the contemporary world. Janet Hoskins (1998:197) found
that Kodi villagers of Eastern Indonesia were largely separated from
those forces À literacy, popularised psychology and the privacy necessary
for introspection À that form the modernist idea of self. However, she
did find a comparable interest in reflections about the self such that a
Western category and a non-Western concept of self could not be easily
distinguished.
The accumulation and enchainment of identity 121

Hollis™ demonstration that people were never, as Mauss suggested,
natural first and social afterwards (ibid. 1985:232), led him to conclude
that the journeys from concept to category are different expressions by
different cultures of what, in all times and places, has underlain a universal
sense of self. This was the task which Kant set the self, that of ˜securing
a world of persisting, causally related objects amid a mass of experienced
phenomena (ibid. 1985:229)™. Making sense of who we are by judging what
we experience in the roles we play. Others, such as Hobbes and Hume,
saw the issue differently, with the inner sense of self separate from any
role we might have, echoing the distinction discussed in Chapter 4 between
the materialism of Marx and the anthropological materiality of Mauss
(Rowlands 2004:198).
The boldness of Mauss™ scheme was his fusion of sociology and
psychology. He may not have been entirely successful but went some
way to merging two disciplines and thereby dissolving the unhelpful
distinction between cultural construction and biological endowment that
I have been criticising in earlier chapters. However, it is not always neces-
sary to attack such dualisms but rather recognise, as Gell (1998:127) did, that
disciplines are dedicated to external (sociology) and internal (psychology)
analysis of our inner states for good reasons. And both Gell and before him
Mauss, recognised the importance of material culture in this synthesis.
An answer to the question I asked concerning the link between
objects and notions such as the self is provided by Mauss™ example of the
mask (Hollis 1985), common in all cultures, to illustrate the concept and
category of self and person. Masks in his terms are personnage the roles
and characters which someone takes on (Table 5.3): Goffman™s (1959)
face presented to the world, the material impersonation of the identities
within. But there is still a sense of separation, a division between the
concept of self and the materiality of the mask. Furthermore, it is because
objects mediate between the social and the psychological, the gap Collins
(1985:74) speaks of, that archaeologists need to consider these concepts
in their study of change as the material basis of identity.


Layering and the biography of objects
Thinking through the body and objects gives us some purchase on those
inner identities in the darkness of the body. Our access route mimics the
process of archaeological excavation where layers of soil are removed to
uncover spatial relationships between the things we find: an analogy that
psychologists ever since Freud have used to dig into the unconscious.
122 Origins and Revolutions

Accumulation as a social practice (Table 5.2) can best be described as
a layering process (Knappett 2005; 2006), the laying down of layers like
second skins and where the containers of material culture we live in and
move between (clothes, rooms, buses, churches and cities) extend the
boundaries of our bodies in space and time. Those sedimented practices,
the durable dispositions of Bourdieu™s habitus (Chapter 4), are also
layerings that accumulate memory at places and in regard to people and
objects. Accumulation is also, in Chapman™s sense above, the physical
gathering of objects such as bricks in a wall, bodies in a cemetery or bronze
swords for a metal hoard. The magnetic-like effect of the practice of
accumulation is only possible through enchainment and the distribution of
action across space as well as time. People and artefacts circulate, change
hands and come to rest. To talk of enchainment necessarily leads us to
accumulation and vice versa. But ultimately the force of these practices
relates to the experience of the body that created them as metaphors
to understand its hidden internal landscape.
For these reasons it is now common, following the lead of Igor
Kopytoff (1986), to study the biography of objects (Hoskins 1998;
Jones 2002:Chapter 5). Such biographical concerns dispense with the
people: object dichotomy and recognise the importance of artefacts in both
mediating and constituting our relationships and identities. From an
archaeologist™s viewpoint Chris Gosden and Yvonne Marshall (1999:
169À70) draw the following distinctions for material culture:
• Use-life, where artefacts are treated as passive things that through use
become smaller, worn, repaired and discarded. A use-life approach
that is common among studies of stone tools (Keeley 1980) under-
stands a one-way relationship with the user as master, tool as servant.
• Biography, extends the term life-history by considering artefacts as
active in the construction of meaning because social life is mediated
through them. Biographical objects are exemplars of a hybrid culture
(Chapter 4).
For Kopytoff (1986:67) ˜biographies of things can make salient
what might otherwise remain obscure™, while Hoskins (1998:2) discovered
in her conversations with Kodi villagers that the biographies of people
and objects could not be separated. People recounted their lives by talking
about objects. If asked about themselves they just listed their children,
but when asked about the betel bag a man carried she learned a wealth
of social information and heard a complex life history. She describes
these objects as memory boxes.
The accumulation and enchainment of identity 123

A coherent [autobiographical] narrative constructs a unified image of the
self out of the disparate, messy fragments of daily experience. It is perhaps
significant that the ˜biographical objects™ my informants selected were
often containers (the betel pouch, the hollow drum, the funeral shroud).
(Hoskins 1998:5)

It is the emotional significance invested in such personal memory boxes
that gives them a ˜charge of psychic energy™ (Hoskins 1998:22).
Objects are not only invested with significance but can be direct
expressions of the emotions contained within the body. Starting with an
explicit use of pots as a metaphor for the human body (body as container),
potter Jonathan Keep (2005) worked with hospital patients to give physical
form to the emotions that arose from their illnesses. Rather than a course of
art-therapy, the ceramics the three patients produced were material meta-
phors for depression, an altered body image through the intervention of
a colostomy bag and breathing exercises to relieve asthma and respiratory
difficulties. In all three pots the biographical charge is evident.

Enchained identities and extended minds
If the body, and for that matter the mind, is a container then it is more like a
sieve than a saucepan. Not for the reason that it ingests and excretes sub-
stances through a variety of orifices but rather because our personhood does
not stop at the skin. It is instead distributed in the world of people and
objects (Busby 1997; Lambek and Strathern 1998; Strathern 1988),
encapsulated in hybrid culture. Moreover, as Knappett asks, ˜mind extends
through the interface of the body into matter; mind also draws matter into
the bodily scheme. How does this happen?™ (Knappett 2006:243). Knappett
answers his question by examining layering and networking, what I refer to
as the complementary concepts of accumulation and enchainment that I
have used to examine the biographical facets of self and personhood. Now it
is the turn of enchainment/networking, but I must stress that their separa-
tion from accumulation is only a convenience to assist exposition. I do not
imply that the way we extend in the world is solely through networking.

Different categories of individuals
I will start by returning to the contributions from sociologists and
psychologists in Mauss™ categories (Table 5.3). From this external
perspective, material culture, of which masks are an example, conveniently
focuses attention on the construction of our internal state, my own
124 Origins and Revolutions

individual, psychological understanding of the world. But that internal state
is influenced by my relationship with and contribution to a wider social
world. As Collins (1985:73) puts it ˜in logical terminology persons are
physical particulars but psychological relata™. What ties it all together are
those hybrid networks (Gell 1998; Knappett 2006) that we create through
negotiation and interaction as we enrol others in our projects.
At this point it is the sociologists, in the guise of anthropologists, who
gain the upper hand as we move from an internal to external standpoint.
Two models, reminiscent of the concept and category of personhood,
describe the individual as the product of social relationships. These are
the Melanesian and Western individual (Gosden 1999:132À6), summarised
by anthropologist Edward LiPuma in Table 5.4.

The Western individual
Let me start with what we think we know about ourselves. The Western
view of the individual acknowledges the impact of Cartesian thinking upon
our notion of a person (Hollis 1985). It allows us to recognise individuals
and individuality for the simple reason that according to this view bodies
contain minds and the individual quite literally stops at the skin. Raised as
a Cartesian this makes sense to me, but then it would, wouldn™t it? I have no
direct access to another person™s mind except through a theory of mind.
I cannot read your thoughts because rationally I know that minds are
separate and unique to the individual. I can build representations of those
thoughts in other people™s heads based on how I conceptualise the world,
and in particular the social world, as working. For example, I expect the
bus conductor to sell me a ticket and he expects me to pay him. I anticipate
that my students will sit quietly in my lecture, taking notes. They hope it
won™t be too boring. I don™t question these routine arrangements because
I believe we are all sharing in the same representations of acceptable
behaviour in well defined social situations. Therefore, one outcome of the
Cartesian separation of minds and bodies is to produce norms of behaviour.
Such norms can then be studied and compared.
When it comes to material culture this view of the separate indivi-
dual structured by norms requires that artefacts À masks would be a good
example À reflect these norms. Hence for many years archaeologists
expected the distribution of wealth such as gold or palaces to reflect the
pyramid structure of the social order, with kings and chiefs at the apex
supported by successive ranks of lower social grades until the commoners
and peasants were reached at the base. Put another way, a hierarchy of
bigger and better masks. These views, while now strongly challenged within
The accumulation and enchainment of identity 125

table 5.4. The contrast between Western and Melanesian personhood (LiPuma
1998:58À9). I have selected those aspects from LiPuma™s full list that relate to my
discussion and emphasised some of the key concepts in italics

Western Melanesian
Persons are conceptually distinct from the rela- Persons are the compound and plural
tions that unite them and bring them together site of the relations that define them
Singular person is an individual Singular person is composite
The person is the subject of an explicit and There is no explicit ideology of persons,
visible ideology À individualism only contextually situated images
An individual™s behaviour and intentions are An individual™s behaviour and intentions
interpreted as the public expression of are interpreted in terms of his/her
inner qualities (honesty, greed, etc.) actions in context
Persons mature biogenetically as a Persons grow transactionally as the
consequence of their own inner potential beneficiary of other people™s actions
Persons depend on themselves for knowledge Persons depend on others for knowledge
about their internal selves, i.e. self-knowledge about themselves, and they are not
the authors of this knowledge
A person™s power lies in his/her control over A person™s power lies in his/her ability
others; power is a possession to do and act; power is a relation
Society runs parallel to the individual; it
Society stands over and against the
individual as an external force that imposes is embodied as dispositions to think,
norms, rules, and constraining conventions believe, and feel in a certain way
Its commodity logic leads people to search Its gift logic leads people to search for
for knowledge about things and to make an knowledge about persons and to make
explicit practice out of knowing the nature a practice out of knowing the
of objects person-making powers of objects



archaeology (Gamble 2001), still hold sway outside it, and like the singular
Western individual show little sign of decline.

The Melanesian dividual
Godfrey Lienhardt (1985) has strongly criticised the value of the Western
individual as a universal model. From his ethnographic experience in
East Africa he concludes that the mind:body dualism:
Is achieved at the price of severing all the traditional bonds by which man
has been joined to other men and the world around them, but also of
126 Origins and Revolutions

splitting in two the personal union of mind and body and expelling the
instincts of the latter.
(ibid.:152)

The price paid is also the loss of hybrid culture. Our material culture not
only exists outside the body but outside social relations. We use it to act on
the world, for example when digging the garden, but not to inhabit the
world in a mutual manner with instruments such as spades and forks.
Anthropologists, Marilyn Strathern (1988) and Nurit Bird-David (1995;
1999) have re-thought the concept of the Western individual. Based on
their anthropological fieldwork in Melanesia and India respectively they
propose a distributed person or partible individual, also known as a dividual,
and by Roy Wagner as a fractal person (1991). The dividual does not stop
at the skin but is instead dispersed through networks of exchange and
relationships of all kinds. It is for example through such networks that the
androgyny of the body becomes gendered (Strathern 1988). People are
therefore composites and created through sets of relationships to one
another as well as to material culture (Gosden 1999:124). Wagner (1991:34)
sums it up well when he points out that a model such as the Melanesian
dividual emphasises the centrality of relationships and that all modes
of ˜relating™ are basically analogous. The alternative, natural systems of
kinship that Morgan saw arising from the facts of genealogy and biology,
starts from the institution not the individual and the relationships
through which they exist. The flow of analogy to create these relationships
may consist of protocols governing how people relate, incest taboos for
example, but the major symbols that articulate the sequences between
relationships are normally those of body substances and the spirit world
(Wagner 1991:34À5).
As a consequence the biological reality of individual separateness
breaks down and in its place a collectivity emerges that also removes, as
advocated above by Lienhardt (1985), the distinction between mind and
body. Most importantly these analytical elements are re-united in the
concepts of the body-whole and into their landscapes of habit (Gamble
1999; Gosden 1994).
Strathern (1988:13) describes the distributed person as a homologue
because in one sense the singular (individual) and the plural (social
collective) are ˜the same™ (Table 5.4). She describes the relationship, based
on her fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, as follows:
The bringing together of many persons is just like the bringing together of
one. The unity of a number of persons conceptualized as a group or set is
The accumulation and enchainment of identity 127

achieved through eliminating what differentiates them, and this is also
exactly what happens when a person is individualized . . . Social life
consists in a constant movement from one state to another, from one type
of sociality to another, from a unity (manifested collectively or singly) to
that unity split or paired with respect to another.
(ibid. 1988:14)

The body is central to such distinctions. In her ethnographic study,
Anne Becker (1995) distinguishes between the cultivation of the personal
body in Western societies and the cultivation of the bodies of others in Fiji.
For Fijians the body is a way of integrating the self into the community
rather than a vehicle for expressing personal identity (Becker 1995:128).


The neutral individual
But as LiPuma (1998:63) points out, the dividual:individual, if applied
as a rigid distinction between a Western and a Melanesian personhood,
emerges as yet another dualism. He believes the way forward is not to
see such starkly contrasted systems but rather to use Strathern™s insight
and recognise that persons emerge from that tension between dividual and
individual aspects and relations (ibid. 1998:57). Moreover, LiPuma argues
that the terms and conditions of this tension will vary historically. As a result
so will the range of persons, that local expression of common personhood.
Caroline Busby agrees in her wider comparative study:
In Hagen (Papua New Guinea) it is relationships which make persons.
In India (Kerala) it is emphatically persons who make relationships.
(Busby 1997:273)

Her study in South India shows how individuals are connected to each
other through exchange, but that these substances are a manifestation of
the person and not the relationship as Strathern found in Melanesia.
The outcome is important. Enchainment can be both rational and
relational. Moreover, as we saw earlier with the demise of Mauss™ scheme
for a move from a concept to a category of self, no historical develop-
ment existed between Melanesian and Western personhood. As Bird-David
(1999:87; Ingold 1999:81) points out the issue is one of authority. Currently
the modernist project of Western science, as bemoaned by Lienhardt,
has eroded much of the authority of relational ways of understanding.
An individual in Medieval Europe was indivisible from the world while
today we are an indivisible part of a divisible world (Bird-David 1999:88).
But both systems of authority still exist in the predictions of the astrologer
128 Origins and Revolutions

and the science of the astronomer. And even though they draw on a
different social authority both the individual and dividual can vote in
a democracy or dance to the beat of the collective drum.
But even this simple characterisation of changing authority is too
black and white. The unfamiliar hominin past is not to be portrayed as
history against modernity, a re-discovery of what we have lost. There have
been changes in the practice of authority as shown by social actions
involving material culture. This balance, however, is always shifting.
What emerges are historically specific constructions of identity rather
than universally applicable revolutions.


Networking and autobiographical resources
Networking/enchainment needs resources to create relations and three
such can be readily identified: emotional, material and symbolic (Gamble
1998; Turner and Maryanski 1991). As Toren describes it:
Any act, remembering, for instance, implicates the embodied cognitive

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