Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Beyond flesh and bone : body-objects, personhood, and ontology in prehistoric and early historic Rapa Nui, East Polynesia
Author: Armstrong, Felipe
ISNI:       0000 0004 7965 0101
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
This thesis explores the role played by anthropomorphic objects in how prehistoric and early historic people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) shaped their understanding of body, person, and world. Previous studies on some of these objects based their interpretations on the use of textual (ethnographic or historic) information, offering representational - mainly mythological - understandings of them. The aim of this thesis is to evaluate from a strictly archaeological perspective objects shaped in human body form or having human body parts, focusing on the material character of the objects, their iconographic elements, and the ways in which their multiple attributes relate to each other and to other participants of the Rapanui world. By studying objects made in varied materials, scales, and with diverse iconographic elements, this thesis offers a broad understanding of the anthropomorphic objects, crossing traditional typological divisions used by ethnographers and archaeologists. This thesis is informed by different theoretical discussions on the social and cultural reality of body and personhood, as well as on the ontological frame(s) in which they exist. Anthropomorphic objects are considered as bodies made in materials other than those of the biomedical fleshand-bone body, and they are assessed as such. The research concludes that heterogeneity of the anthropomorphic objects from Rapa Nui reflect, and impacted upon, two different, and likely contemporaneous, bodyscapes: one based on partibility, compositeness, and ambiguity; the other, on homogeneity, rigidity, and repetition. These bodyscapes were also key in the development of particular modes of personhood on the island. It is argued that these bodies and persons existed in an analogical ontology, where fractality played a significant role in connecting different scales of similar practices. Anthropomorphic objects are then related with other phenomena, and especially with human bodies: this research stresses how these body-objects affected and interacted with humans and their social relations, impacting upon peoples' embodied lives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available