Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Vol 24, No 2 (2011)

Building Social Boundaries at the Hybridizing First-Millenium BC Complex of Vouni (Cyprus)

Catherine Kearns
Issued Date: 2 Dec 2011


Recent studies of past built environments have shown that archaeologists can investigate successfully the role of buildings in constructions of identity and the production of society. Yet despite this attention to social life, ancient architectural forms are often still viewed as blueprints of ethnic style. Postcolonial arguments for hybridization, while contesting culture-historical labels, can still associate built forms with essentialized signatures. The ongoing interactions of social actors and materials within the built environment, and the resulting negotiations of boundaries and claims to distinction, require more consideration. In this study, I argue that an approach to hybridizing built forms actively, one that avoids issues related to ethnicity and instead emphasizes the social lives of buildings and the chaîne opératoire of construction, offers a framework for investigating these dynamics over time, within contesting sociopolitical apparatuses. I use a case study from a debated imperial context in the eastern Mediterranean—the fifth-century BC monumental complex at Vouni, on Cyprus—to examine the built environment as implicated in the production of social boundaries and the reorganization of power relations.

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DOI: 10.1558/jmea.v24i2.147


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