Artefacts as Categories: A Study of Ceramic Variability in Central India by Daniel Miller
The aim of Artefacts as Categories is to ask what we can learn about a society from the variability of the objects it produces. Dr Miller presents a comprehensive analysis of the pottery produced in a single village in central India, drawing together and analysing a whole range of aspects - technology, function, design, symbolism and ideology - that are usually studied separately. Using the concepts of 'pragmatics', 'framing' and 'ideology', the author points to the insufficiency of many ethnographic accounts of symbolism and underlines the need to consider both the social positioning of the interpreter and the context of the interpretation when looking at artefacts. His invigorating study cogently questions many assumptions in material culture studies and offers a whole range of fresh explanations. Archaeologists in particular will welcome the discussion of familiar materials such as pottery rim shapes, body forms and decoration. However, the book will have a broad appeal to researchers in cultural studies, social anthropology and psychology and will attract all those interested in the problem of relating objects and society.