Re-thinking diffusion 'in-between'. Cultural encounters, time and the formation of hybrid identities.

  • Irene Garcia Rovira

Student thesis: Phd


ABSTRACTIrene Garcia RoviraPh.D. Thesis, University of Manchester, October 2011.Re-thinking diffusion 'in-between': Cultural encounters, time and the formation of hybrid identities. For some time now, social scientists, literary critics and others who have examined socio-political developments characterised by intercultural interaction (e.g. colonialism or globalisation), have emphasised the creative, transformative and hybrid character of the space 'in-between' (e.g. Bhabha 1994; Young 1995). Even though 'hybridity discourses' have principally explored spheres of intercultural interaction in order to dismantle traditional binary oppositions used in colonial studies, or to describe the subtleties of our contemporary globalised environment, they have also raised awareness of the need to integrate such insights into accounts that explore and theorise a range of social phenomena (e.g. Nederveen Pieterse 2009). Whilst this integration has taken place in the wider context of the social sciences, scant attention has been given within the reflective arena of post-processualism to devising theoretical approaches which allow for analyses either of the space 'in-between' or the 'multivoicedness' (Bakhtin 1981) of material culture (for an exception see Fahlander 2007). This thesis seeks to define the theoretical as well as methodological strategies needed to incorporate the notion of 'hybridity' into the post-processual discourse.Although the effects of hybridity can take various forms (e.g. linguistics, culture, politics, religion) (Ashcroft et al. 1998), our possibilities for exploring this concept in archaeology amount to identifying the effects of hybridity on the realm of material culture. This research focuses on developing a theoretical and methodological approach that allows intercultural interaction to be examined through the identification of material patterning. To do so, the notion of 'diffusion' is reconsidered as an analytical concept in archaeology.This thesis then draws upon this approach to explore developments within the Orcadian Neolithic during the later fourth millennium BC. As a period of structural change in the islands, it has been the breeding ground for the development of various differing approaches to interpretation (e.g. Renfrew 1979b, Hodder 1982a; Sharples 1985). On this occasion, I will argue that this period represented a classic example of the formation of hybrid identities. Whilst a self-unified image of society was sought in these islands during this period, it is suggested that the cultural expressions used to depict identity reflected intercultural interaction with the Boyne Valley (Ireland).
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJulian Thomas (Supervisor)


  • Neolithic, Orkney Islands, practice theory, hermeneutics, hybridity, in-between

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