"Decisions and Dispositions": Socializing Spatial Archaeology



Concerns with spatial dimensions and social inference have long histories in archaeology. However, the two histories are not always conjoined. This article considers changing understandings of space in archaeology in the last half century, and the variable nature of what "social" has denoted and connoted during that same span. The review highlights recurring calls for a social archaeology, and the degree to which, in such instances, social inference has been expressed in spatial terms, especially as these have recognized people's "decisions and dispositions" as shaping the archaeological record. Life histories of place receive special attention as ways of discerning the existence and social impact of such decisions and dispositions. These life histories constitute an arena in which archaeologists from diverse theoretical perspectives can offer complementary insights. Moreover, they exemplify ways in which social and spatial inferences in archaeology contribute to wider understanding of human experience. [Keywords: archaeology, social, space, place, life history]