On Friday, I spoke about the intimate and physical link between our bodies and waters of our landscapes of dwelling, on how materially connected we are to the geologies of the places we live in, how we are constituted by the mineral worlds around us and in return how we build and impact them with our own interventions. Archaeological scientists have been enthusiastically investigating the chemical residues of local geologies in human and animal bones and teeth, with the help of radioactive isotopes. Read more about this in Brenda Fowler’s “Written in Bone” (Archaeology 60.3, 2007). This sedimentation of local geological chemistries in our bodies are made possible with our consumption of water and plant foods, and the study of ancient human remains allow archaeological scientists to speak about where those individuals have lived, what kind of diet they maintained, what kind of heavy diseases or injuries they had and if they were exposed to specific types of bodily labor. (Highly recommended readings on this: Joanna R. Sofaer’s The body as material culture: a theoretical osteaoarchaeology and Rosemary Joyce, ; 2005. “Archaeology of the body,” Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 139-158.). Phenomenological approaches such as Gaston Bachelard’s Water and Dreams point similarly to the ontological basis of our being in the world, the sensory, the visceral aspects of our immersion into the matter of the earth. In phenomenology, we are not quiet spectators of the landscape around us but we enter into mutual exchanges with glaciers, mountains, lakes, and seas, as Julie Cruikshank elegantly shown in Do Glaciers Listen?. I will try to follow up on this in the coming lectures.
Water and bodies