Intersubjectivity and the Meaning of Things

By Roberta Robin Dods.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Beyond the boundary of recorded time human action/interaction speaks to us through the artifact. Those things termed artifacts are the hardware remains of ancient technologies representing systems of communication of complicated ideas. The oral tradition world comes to us through these THINGS - from their hand to your hand, from their mind to your mind. This is not through the written representation of THINGS but THE THING itself. We do not come to know the 'thing' through the immediate intersubjective relationship with the informant of the fieldwork experience of the anthropologist. Thus we do not approach the artifact through the filter of language as a symbolic representation in written form or the world of the current user but from the construct of the oral itself represented symbolically in the artifact. By this I mean that such artifacts are talked into existence. Their shape and form, their chaîne opératoire of construction was accomplished through intersubjective interaction, a relationship based on oral communication and negotiated meaning in which we have not been privileged to participate. This talking into existence is a very different process from learning to do something via the written document. Such written information (like a DYI manual) is once, twice, thrice removed from the AUTHOR. Textual societies have the ability to be removed from the source of knowledge - 1, 2, 3, 4,… n times on both the synchronic and diachronic levels. Oral tradition societies, by the nature of their communication, negotiate structure and meaning with an immediacy not found in societies focused on transmission through written documentation.

Keywords: Ancient Technologies, Systems of Communication, Symbolic Representation, Negotiate Structure and Meaning

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 4, Issue 9, pp.99-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.477MB).

Dr Roberta Robin Dods

Associate Professor, Community, Culture and Global Studies (Anthropology), University of British Columbia - Okanagan, Canada

Degrees * BA (Honours, Anthropology, University of Toronto) * MA (Anthropology & Archaeology, University of Toronto) * PhD (Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, London) Journal Publications (latest three) Knowing Ways/Ways of Knowing: Reconciling Science and Tradition. World Archaeology 36:4 (Dec.2004). Pp. 547-557. Wondering The Wetland: archaeology through the lens of myth and metaphor in Northern Boreal Canada. Journal of Wetland Archaeology 3: 17-36. Oxbow Books. (2003) The Death of Smokey Bear: the ecodisaster myth and forest management practices in prehistoric North America. World Archaeology 33:3 (Feb.2002). Pp. 475-487. Analysis/Fieldwork Areas and Current Research * North America (mostly Canadian Boreal Forest and Boreal/Deciduous Ecotones) * Ancient pyrotechnology (use of fire as a tool) in the management of forests * Ancient landscape constructs as indicators of cultural realities * Science and Traditional Knowledge


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