Embodied identity as process : performativity through footwear in mid-Medieval (AD 800-1200) Northern Europe
A strong case is made for the re-thinking of identity as a dynamic and performative process, rather than a label. Using ideas from Wiessner and others, the relationship between material culture and interactive processes of emulation and rejection is refined, in a framework derived from Bourdieu (particularly Bodily Hexis) and Goffinan (particularly Impression Management). These ideas are explored through a rigorous study of stylistic variability in footwear from Mid-Medieval Northern Europe. It is argued that the large amounts of footwear, which is shaped to and marked by the wearers' bodies, are potentially rich sources of information about the active `impression management' of the people of the time. That the period defined for this project tends to be seen by historians as one of timeless continuity for all but the elite, and a time when `identity' is primordial and its substance almost archetypal, makes, it is argued, the variability particularly worth pursuing. 18 archives are sampled and the footwear recorded in a systematic manner. These primary sources are extended through the use of secondary sources, and contextualised (within the limits of iconographic conventions) through the careful and systematic quarrying of the iconography of the human body in contemporary representations. The outcomes suggest a complex situation of change over time, from distinct regional patterns in the 9U' century through convergence in the 10th century which culminates in relative homogeneity in the 11th century, with marked regional contrasts returning in the 12th century. Within this, there are similarities and differences in preferences, which raise important questions about links between, for example, York, Dublin and London in the 10th century, and the interplay of consumer preference and artisan practice at the time. Timeless continuity and primordial identity are not affirmed through the footwear, except in particular significant contexts. In keeping with the firmly hermeneutic approach used throughout the project, the thesis concludes with a summary of new directions suggested by the research.