Constellation:- Theory as an Object (session 3)

In our third week of studying ‘Theory as an Object’, we looked into archaeology and genealogy as methodology.

Archaeology is the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artefacts and other physical remains. Archaeology as methodology is the change which has taken place over time to a particular object.


In this diagram we can see the change over the years with the shape and material of pots. This has changed to enhance many different aspects such as handling, weight and strength. Here we look at what remains constant and what changes and why.

Genealogy is different as it doesn’t look at how things change, but who, what and why things change and adapt. In his 1971 essay, ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,’ Michel Foucault introduces the term ‘genealogy’ as the project of tracing, “The singularity of events”, where the event is, “Not a decision, a treaty, a reign, or a battle, but a relationship of forces that reverses itself, a confiscated power.”

“Genealogy examines process while archaeology examines the ‘moment’, however temporally extended that moment might be. Genealogy offers us a processual perspective on the web of discourse, in contrast to an archaeological approach which provides us with a snapshot, a slice through the discursive nexus” (Phil Bevis, Michele Cohen and Gavin Kendall. Archaeologizing genealogy: Michel Foucault and the economy of austerity)


Family trees can be used as an example of genealogy as it is a continuous natural process which occurs over generations, where changes occur due to social circumstances over time.


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