Bodies from the bog: Metamorphosis, non-human agency and the making of 'collective' memory

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Abstract

This essay is about bog bodies - the preserved remains of prehistoric humans, often interpreted as ritual killings, found in peat bogs across northwest Europe. It considers the production of knowledge about the human past as a complex, relational process implicating multiple actors and traversing the terms of any straightforward nature-culture binary. It argues that theorizations of collective memory - and in particular of its 'collective' aspect - need to pay closer attention, both to the role of non-human agencies in the shaping of humanly intelligible artefacts and histories and to the relationship between preservation and transformation as a constitutive feature of collective memory. By way of illustration, it traces in some detail the story of one particular bog body, from death and deposition in the ground through rediscovery, excavation, archaeological analysis and subsequent public display.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalTrames
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

Keywords

  • Memory
  • Metamorphosis
  • Nature/culture
  • Non-human agency

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