Archaeology and anthropology in a world of hybrids, cyborgs and posthumans

This source preferred by Fiona Coward

Authors: Coward, F.

Start date: 16 December 2013

Archaeology is usually defined as the study of past societies from their material remains, while social or cultural anthropology focuses on contemporary societies and groups and biological anthropology on the biological adaptations of different groups throughout the human past and present. These definitions immediately set up arange of oppositions between the disciplines between the past and present, things and people, bodies and cultures. However, many of these distinctions are becoming increasingly contested in the contemporary world – if, indeed, they were ever entirely valid. I have argued elsewhere that human social and biological evolution was scaffolded by our interactions with material culture and technology; however, these processes have obviously gathered pace in the contemporary world. In a world of human and human-animal transplants, artificial external and internal prostheses, gene therapy and genetic modification, smartphones in our pockets, cameras in our glasses and smart drugs which affect the very make-up of our brains, the distinctions between those who study human society, material cultures and bodies are becoming increasingly relevant. I will argue here that in a world of hybrids, cyborgs and posthumans, archaeology and anthropology must work hand in hand to monitor, question and shape the next steps in human evolution.

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