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localised/concrete: the referent has to be abstract enough to delocalise the identity
of citizens and at the same time be concrete enough to be referred to as the referent
for the self identiļ¬cation of the citizens. In other words, a nation-state needs some-
thing transcendental, such as a god or a god-given value, or something concrete and
abstract at the same time, with which its citizens can (re)identify themselves. The
transcendental is needed to make citizens feel/believe that they can understand one
another anywhere within the domain of the nation-state to a depth which cannot be
achieved between citizens belonging to different nation-states. Once the existence of
the transcendental is internalised the circularity and paradox become a non-issue.
The de-paradoxisation is completed.

1 Except in some highly unusual circumstances, money does not have any use/value, and that which has
concrete use/value cannot be used as money (cf. Giddens 1990, 22).
Modernity and archaeology 27


I would argue that archaeology constitutes an ideal locus/discursive space where
these transcendental entities can reside, underpinning and mediating the working of
the homogenising media and internal homogeneity of the modern nation-state. As
will be fully illustrated in Chapter 3.8 below, there are structural parallels between
the archaeological material and the transcendental. The primary subjects of archaeo-
logical investigation are artefacts and features which have been buried. Their identity
can be ļ¬xed spatio-temporally, and they are meaningless archaeologically unless they
are ļ¬xed to chrono-cultural positions as far as modern, scientiļ¬c archaeology (cf.
Trigger 1989, Chapter 3) is concerned. At the same time, they cannot be attributed
directly to anything in the contemporary world. They are archaeological material
because they have been left behind, i.e., disconnected with agency, and cannot be
linked directly to any concrete human action. They can only be attributed to concrete
human actions through mediations (i.e., theoretico-methodological mediations) that
take place in the contemporary world. This means that every possible archaeological
communication is about what are temporalised and localised as deposits and are decon-
textualised through mediation in the contemporary world at one go. And this combination
of contextualisedness and decontextualisedness in one entity nicely coincides with what
is required for the transcendental entities to guarantee the internal homogeneity of
nation-states. In that sense, archaeology constitutes an ideal imaginary locus where
transcendental entities are imagined to reside.
It was pointed out that it was to make the relationship between the individual
and the nation natural and to give it emotional strength that were the concerns
of nationalism and they were the needs to which the use of the past/archaeology
ļ¬ts nicely (Sorensen 1996, 28ā€“29). The foregoing explains how such a relationality
between the past, the individual, the nation and the related emotions comes about
and works particularly well in modernity and in the nation-state, and why; ultimately,
the past has, since the inception of modernity and the modern nation-state, always
been called up to terminate the vicious circularity and to de-paradoxise the paradox
that fundamentally constitutes the modern nation-state.

2.3 The fate and fears of archaeology in modernity: the outline of
this volume
If the above were the case, archaeology as a distinct modern discursive space would
continue to function as a locus where the transcendental, which functions to maintain
the internal homogeneity of individual nation-states, resides as long as nation-states
exist or, indeed, modernity lasts.
However, the character of both modernity and the modern nation-state has been
changed and transformed, and, as illustrated in Chapter 1, the transformation has
reached the point at which some scholars have come to characterise the society we live
in as something fundamentally different from that of modernity, viz., post-modernity.
We should not be bothered too much about the labelling. The consensus is that
the social formation of industrialised countries has become what is characterised
by such notions and factors as ā€˜reļ¬‚exivityā€™, ā€˜fragmentationā€™, ā€˜individualisationā€™, and
ā€˜liquidisationā€™ (cf. Harvey 1989; Bauman 2000b). They attempt to capture the loss of
Archaeology, Society and Identity 28


the stable axes of the structuration of society, stable referents with which to decide
how to act in particular contexts, and comprehensive models with which to plan
oneā€™s life-course, for instance. This phenomenon, quite naturally, has resulted in the
generation of a new paradigm of attitudes, which take the form of ā€˜post-processual
archaeologiesā€™ (e.g. Hodder 1991) in the discipline of archaeology. Saying this might
imply that the connection between archaeology as a source of homogenisation and the
modern nation-state as an internally homogeneous entity has come to an end because
the citizens of a nation-state are now heterogeneous on various levels, temporally as
well as spatially. However, the actual situation is not so simple.
Todayā€™s world is also characterised by the wave of homogenisation called globalisa-
tion. Globalisation means different things to different people, but it can be broadly
deļ¬ned as a group of phenomena relating to the expansion of hyper-capitalistic
social formation and (the image and the illusion of) the accompanying lifestyle
(e.g. Lechner and Boli 1999). All kinds of differences between internally homo-
geneous/homogenised entities ranging from nation-states through aesthetics are
utilised to proļ¬t in innumerable ways from hyper-capitalistic social formation (e.g.
Harvey 1989). It is not the case that only pre-existing differences, such as those which
are based upon nation-states and their boundaries, are utilised. Rather, formerly
non-existent/intangible/unconceived boundaries, marked increasingly by symbolic,
rather than functional, items and features, are articulated and rearticulated by those
who are in possession of the means to create differences and make ever-increasing
proļ¬ts by utilising them (Harvey 1989; Balibar and Wallerstein 1991). For instance,
the turnover time of capital, i.e., the time taken for an investment to generate proļ¬t,
is increasingly shortened by deliberately and chronically abolishing old fashions and
advertisements and creating new alternatives in ever-shortening intervals (note the
similarity to the ever-shortening of the duration in which public interests in newly
reconstructed sites last, mentioned in Chapter 1): the chronic generation of spatio-
temporal differences in the circulation of symbols and images, in this case, generates
proļ¬t (cf. Harvey 1989, Chapter 14). On a macro level, chronologically relocating
the place of capital investment, i.e., the place of production, in shorter time intervals
than the opponents also gives the investor an edge by utilising the created cost dif-
ferences (Harvey 1989). New entities have to be articulated all the time, and these
new entities, in order to function as units between which differences can be created
and engineered, have to be internally homogeneous in one way or another (Harvey
1989). Meanwhile, these created entities often function as the units between which
advantages and disadvantages/impoverishment are generated and felt, for instance,
in the form of sudden relocation of factories leaving behind mass unemployment
and social deprivation in developing countries (Bauman 2000a). This means that
archaeology as a source of homogenisation is still in demand, although in a different
context and in a different manner from that of classic modernity; an impoverished
country/region/group may resort to stirring up nationalistic sentiments in order to
resist and counter such selļ¬sh moves by international corporations, and archaeology
may be mobilised to generate nationalistic primordialist beliefs (many examples in
Kohl and Fawcett 1996).
Modernity and archaeology 29


At the same time, the grip of hyper-capitalistic social formation is ever expand-
ing into every part of oneā€™s life through various mass media, and it is a natural
consequence that its technology inļ¬‚uences/is emulated by archaeologists. As well as
being a discursive space for the creation of a sense of homogeneity and of an image
of the transcendental, archaeology becomes the arena in which the generation of
differences becomes the name of the game, as if emulating the shortening of capital
turnover time and related socio-cultural phenomena mentioned above. A new the-
ory can be valued solely on its newness, rather than its quality and power to guide
oneā€™s investigation in the right direction (cf. Hodder 1999, Chapter 1). It can also be
added that the individual, the ultimate bearer of, and the minimum unit generating,
differences is increasingly given more attention in archaeological interpretation (e.g.
Meskell 1999). However, this trend in archaeology is structurally identical to what
hyper-capitalism needs/desires. The empowerment of the individual, as the ultimate
consumer of differences, is the ultimate strategy of the hyper-capitalist (Bauman
2000b, Chapter 2). The individual, in such perception, is always hungry for change,
seeking change for changeā€™s sake, because s/he can only ļ¬nd identity through change,
and one can only achieve that objective by chronically purchasing new products in
order to differentiate oneself from oneself of a moment ago and from all the others.
I am what I buy (Bauman 2000b). In that sense, the hyper-capitalistic individual is
bound to relativise everything: stability, durability, and authenticity are, for him/her,
the obstacle to and the enemy of self identiļ¬cation. Ultimate freedom, or nightmare?
Can we, or indeed can the innate ability of the human being, bear the burden of
chronically changing our identities in order to be ourselves? Should archaeology be
used to anchor oneā€™s identity or to help transform it? Such a question, which would
have been unimaginable thirty years ago, nowadays has to be asked.
Drawing upon the above observations and argument in this chapter, we can now
fully outline the structure of this volume. Summarising the arguments, today, we
archaeologists are doing archaeology with two fears. One is the fear of being caught
up in the constitutive character of the nation-state, i.e., being homogenised internally,
and unwittingly supporting the furthering of the control of the state which tends to
oppress minority rights and voices. The other is the fear of being caught up in the two
forces of radicalising modernity, i.e., fragmentation/individualisation/liquidisation
on the one hand and globalisation/homogenisation on the other; and unwittingly
contributing to the generation of pathological social phenomena, the destruction
of anything local/communal/kin-based, the endless relativisation of everything and
apathy (ā€˜anything goesā€™), and the generation and perpetuation of discommunica-
tion between groups/individuals. As illustrated, the former is related to ā€˜classicalā€™
modern social formation (characterised by ā€˜heavy capitalismā€™), and the latter to
ā€˜radicalisedā€™(/post-)modern social formation (characterised by ā€˜light capitalismā€™).
In this volume, I wish to examine in detail the interconnection/interdependence
between these fears and two modern social formations, i.e., classical and radicalised,
and consider what remedy we can propose. As brieļ¬‚y illustrated, the intercon-
nection and interdependence between the fears/problems and the characteristics
of modernity are multi-layered and have been through a complex trajectory of
Archaeology, Society and Identity 30


co-transformation. In order not to lose either the generality or the contextual nuance
of the observation and argumentation with such a complex cluster of issues and fac-
tors behind them, I will move back and forth between the study of particular cases
and wider, general pictures throughout the rest of this volume.
There are innumerable ways to approach modernity and these issues. In Chap-
ter 1, I emphasised the importance of identity and communication in under-
standing the character of the relationship between modernity and archaeology.
Furthering the argument it can be said that there is something unique in the way
discourses/discursive spaces are interconnected as well as in the way each of them
is constituted and reproduced in modernity. Both of these factors are mediated by
communication. The generation and reproduction of communication systems are
intrinsically interconnected with the self identiļ¬cation of those who take part in
them. If simpliļ¬ed, it can be described thus: in order for a communication to con-
tinue, those who take part in it have to mutually predict the next act of the other
and decide how to act upon the prediction. In that process what one is, i.e., the
identity of an individual, is constituted. What is unique about the process of self
identiļ¬cation through communication in modernity is, as illustrated at length later
on, that the way one predicts the otherā€™s thinking and acts and hence identiļ¬es oneā€™s
position in a communication is reļ¬‚exively monitored, theorised and may alter the
way one is involved in the next communication. Such scholars as Anthony Giddens
and Ulrich Beck, by grasping this, characterise the radicalised modernity in which
we live as reļ¬‚exive modernity in which the institutionalisation of the reļ¬‚exive moni-
toring of oneā€™s involvement in a ļ¬eld of social communication constantly alters oneā€™s
identity as well as the way in which the ļ¬eld of communication is constituted (Beck
et al. 1994). From this point of view, the theoretical framework we draw upon in this
volume has to be one which can grasp this complex relationality between communi-
cation and self identiļ¬cation in modernity. This relationality is a systemic, and again,
circular, one in that not one element in it can constitute itself without its connections
to the others, whilst constitutive effects/inļ¬‚uences from the others are processed and
selected by the element in a self-reļ¬‚exive manner. I found Niklas Luhmannā€™s theory
of social systems most useful for this purpose, because his theory deals efļ¬ciently
with the systemic nature of the relationship between ļ¬elds of communication and
the self-reļ¬‚exive nature of the reproduction of each of them, which involves dealing
with circularity and paradox. (We have already seen its elements in the consideration
of the intrinsic nature of communication in Chapter 1.) In Chapter 3 I formulate a
theoretical framework for the undertaking by referring to Luhmannā€™s theory.
Chapter 4 consists of three case studies about the interdependence between ā€˜clas-
sicalā€™ modernity and archaeology and the fears and related problems that the inter-
dependence brings about. Examples will be drawn from the modern nation-state of
Japan where I live and work, where I have the necessary familiarity for going into
the nuanced detail of the subject. It has to be added that Japan, from its histori-
cal background and geopolitical position, went through a unique modernising pro-
cess in which the constitutive elements of modernity and the modern nation-state
were formed in a uniquely intensive, but at the same time somewhat exemplary,
Modernity and archaeology 31


manner. For instance, the above-listed constitutive elements of modernity and the
modern nation-state gradually came into being over a considerable period in Europe.
However, they, particularly the elements of the modern nation-state, came into place
very quickly in Japan: many of them were, in fact, hastily and artiļ¬cially founded
as a ā€˜moduleā€™ by learning directly from advanced nation-states in Europe and the
United States in the face of possible colonisation by Western powers (Nishikawa
1995, 25ā€“30). A delegation was sent to these countries in 1871, four years after the
so-called Meiji restoration ending the Edo feudal regime. The objective of the del-
egation was to make formal visits to the premiers of the countries with which Japan
had already concluded commercial and diplomatic treaties, but one task entrusted
to the delegation was to learn about, and report on the legal, economic, educational,
and militaristic systems/institutions of those countries (Nishikawa 1995). This fact
implies that not only how those systems/institutions were organised but also how they
functioned in the reproduction of the nation-state as a system were brought back
and utilised as an epistemic ā€˜packageā€™. This further implies that, in Japan, archaeol-
ogy, from the beginning, was situated in this epistemic mode in which the furthering
of knowledge of any type was supposed to be only for the sake of the well-being of
the state. That makes the interdependence between modern social formation and
archaeology constituted in Japan highly intense and tangible. I will try to fully and
usefully utilise this advantage to investigate this issue.
Chapter 5 will trace the trajectory of the transformation of modernity from its
classical roots to the radicalised/post-modern variant. It is widely recognised that at
some time during the 1970s modernity entered a new phase. The universal values
upon which modernity was based were thrown into doubt, and the transformation of
capitalism, from the mode characterised by large factory labour and heavy industry
to the mode characterised by individualised work space/ļ¬‚exible time scheduling and
light industry/production of goods whose style is more important than their dura-
bility and functionality, led to the collapse of the mental topography and objective
institutions which supported the traditional industrial capitalist-based society. The
development of electronic communication made the transfer of capital vastly easier
and quicker, and the expansion of the labour market made the world an increasingly
homogeneous place. At the same time, the exploitation of a cheap labour force in the
form of the rapid relocation of factories to seek the cheapest labour is ruining the local
economies of third world nations. All of these factors are interconnected and have
resulted in the generation of an ultimate social philosophy, namely multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism means many different things to different people. However,
by ā€˜multiculturalismā€™ I mean the epistemic attitude which prioritises the mainte-
nance/promotion of differences/diversity over the pursuit of the possibility of reach-
ing mutual understanding and doing common/universal good. This attitude can be
characterised by its opposition to essentialism. By ā€˜essentialismā€™ I mean the epistemic
stance of taking for granted the existence of the ā€˜essenceā€™, or the natural, hence univer-
sally valid, state in each individual thing, for instance the essence for the family, and
the essence for being the individual. This stance implies (a) that cultural differences
have to be overcome for the sake of achieving the common/universal good, ā€˜essentialā€™
Archaeology, Society and Identity 32


for the betterment of human society and human beings and (b) that cultural media
merely represent/reļ¬‚ect the essence of things, and do not constitute/transform it. Both
points can be easily challenged, but challenging them also leads us to difļ¬culties
with diverse philosophical implications. For instance, some advocates of multicul-
turalism criticise point (a) by saying that the belief in the existence of a ā€˜common
goodā€™ itself implies the acceptance of the modern western epistemology which func-
tions to sustain the power relations of the contemporary world. However, do we not
have to sacriļ¬ce, to a degree, cultural differences in order to make the cohabitation
of different cultures/groups possible? Some advocates of multiculturalism also claim
that cultural media, such as language, do not merely represent the essence of things
but constitute the content of things themselves. By that they mean that oneā€™s use of
language constitutes oneā€™s reality and state of existence; and a change in oneā€™s lan-
guage use changes oneā€™s reality and state of existence. The so-called ā€˜PCā€™ (political
correctness) movement in language use faithfully follows this belief and has tried to
create the ultimate value-neutral language in order to eliminate every form of power
relation which is mediated by language use. However, does not the elimination of
historically value-laden words sometimes conceal the existence of historically gen-
erated discriminations and the misdistribution of socio-cultural/symbolic capital? In
Chapter 5, it will be argued that multiculturalism ultimately derives from the aban-
donment of hope for satisfactory mutual understanding and common good in the
contemporary world. My contention is that post-processual archaeologies are a form
of multiculturalism, and in that sense they face the same problems which multicul-
turalism faces today. In Chapter 5, so-called ā€˜archaeologies of identitiesā€™, which have
signiļ¬cant resonance with multiculturalism, will be subject to critical scrutiny.
Before moving on, we need to properly situate multiculturalism in the broad topog-
raphy of contemporary social philosophy. The social philosophy of the twentieth cen-
tury saw (1) communitarianism, (2) methodological universalism/objectivism, and
(3) multiculturalism come and go (Osawa 2002, 11ā€“22). They are interchangeable
with (a) traditionalism, (b) modernism, and (c) post-modernism (Osawa 2002). The
(1)ā€“(a) problematique presupposes the necessary existence of communally shared
experiences/norms in considering the way to make the world a better place. The
(2)ā€“(b) problematique presupposes the human ability to agree about the way to
communicate with one another and to consider the same issue. The (3)ā€“(c) prob-
lematique presupposes the human ability to tolerate each otherā€™s differences and live
side by side harmoniously without commenting on the way others communicate. The
credibility of the latter two have been eroded, particularly rapidly and dramatically
since the 11 September incident. The human abilities these stances presuppose have
been thrown into serious doubt; can the west and the Islamic world, for instance,
reach mutual understanding by creating a value-neutral discursive space, or can they
tolerate/ignore each otherā€™s differences without commenting on them? After 9.11, we
have been forced to be pessimistic about the ability of human beings to coexist peace-
fully. Naturally, the ļ¬rst problematique, i.e., communitarian traditionalism, becomes
increasingly appealing. However, clearly, it does not offer us any solution. Resorting
to this epistemic stance, which characterises what is happening in the world right
Modernity and archaeology 33


now as conļ¬‚icts between mutually irreconcilable belief/behavioural systems, i.e., ā€˜the
clash of civilisationsā€™ (cf. Huntington 1998), might be a better stance than painting
an illusory picture of expanding hyper-capitalism destroying national/cultural bor-
ders as Francis Fukuyama did (Fukuyama 1992). However, what is at issue here
is not how to capture the political reality of inter-civilisation relations but how the
coexistence of and dialogue between different cultural/interest groups could become
possible. Besides, the differences between the civilisations which Huntington talks
about have been problematised by contemporary socio-economic changes and rad-
icalised by political events and decisions taken in the 1980s and 1990s (cf. Naito
2004), and what ā€˜clashā€™ are their ways of seeing the world and communicating about
it. These are historically constituted tendencies, not innate differences.
However, archaeology, together with other social scientiļ¬c/humanistic disciplines,
was confronted with the above-mentioned difļ¬culty well before the 11 September.
Whose interest, if the archaeologist inevitably had to represent an element of the
power relations and maldistributed resources, as illustrated at the beginning of
Chapter 1, should the archaeologist represent, and how? Can we, amongst archae-
ologists and between archaeologists and the general public, ever reach/obtain the
image of the past? Is that desirable? Or should we create different pasts for different
purposes?
Everything happening on the surface of the earth right now seems contradictory
and confusing: homogenisation is accompanied by the reinvention of differences,
and the liquidisation/fragmentation of social relations is accompanied by the re-
invention and consolidation of ā€˜traditionalā€™ customs. One thing for sure is that the
number of boundaries dividing human beings is increasing and their existence is felt
increasingly strongly by the day. What can we do? What can we do as archaeolgists?
Should we make a number of pasts suitable to a number of different needs, or should
we defy the trend by insisting on the possibility of reconstructing the singular past
and promoting the common humanity/value? These issues, again, will be illustrated
mainly by Japanese cases in Chapter 5.
Obviously, there is no easy solution and no single answer, because what is at issue
here is how to confront the consequences of modernity. However, I am obliged to
put forward my own approach to this most serious and fundamental of the issues we
confront in the contemporary world.
Chapter 6 will summarise my argument and conclude the volume.
3
Communication, sociality, and the
positionality of archaeology


3.1 Introduction
As illustrated, modernity can be understood as a systemic whole constituted by a
conļ¬guration of industrialisation, rationalisation, commodiļ¬cation, bureaucratisa-
tion, citizenship, deconstruction of kinship/local ties, secularisation, and institutional
segmentation and specialisation. These factors, although not all coming into being
at once but over a period of time, became interconnected and mutually determinant,
and their interdependence was mediated by a new form of sociality. By ā€˜socialityā€™ I
mean the unity of customs and institutions, and a certain mode of sociality which
gives rise to a social formation which can be characterised by the kinds of institutions
that constitute it and by the way these institutions are interconnected. However, the
description of institutions and how they are interconnected does not say much about
sociality itself, i.e., how it is generated and reproduced (Giddens 1984). In particu-
lar, the sociality we experience in contemporary society is characterised by ļ¬‚uidity
and dynamism rather than by static institutional characteristics. What we have to
investigate is the dynamic, generative element of sociality, i.e., how sociality itself
comes into being and is reproduced.
Scholars such as Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck, as mentioned above, char-
acterise contemporary social formation as ā€˜reļ¬‚exive modernityā€™ (Beck et al. 1994).
By that, they mean that virtually every ļ¬eld of social communication is subject to
constant reļ¬‚exive monitoring, the outcome of which is constantly fed back and con-
tinually alters the way people are involved in communication, as well as the way
communication is structured and reproduced. In such a circumstance, the content
and structuring principle of individual social communication ļ¬elds and the intercon-
nections between them, which were previously stable and constituted what could be
described as ā€˜traditionsā€™, ā€˜institutionsā€™, ā€˜structuresā€™, and so on, become ļ¬‚uid and
ever-changing.
In other words, if we introduce the concept of complexity here (by complexity I
mean the state in which there is a horizon of choices to be articulated for human
action/communication), the nature of the complexity of society has been transformed
from one which can be reduced to a set of ā€˜underlying principlesā€™ or institutional
axes of social reproduction (i.e., traditions) to one which generates a new state of
complexity each and every time ā€“ the observation and the observation of the observation
(Luhmann 1995) of the complexity, i.e., ā€˜reļ¬‚exive monitoringā€™. Writing this volume
is itself an act of observing the complexity of high-/late-/post-modernity through
studying the positionality of archaeology. Doing so, i.e., observing the observation

35
Archaeology, Society and Identity 36


of the complexity generated in the present as well as in the past, contributes towards
articulating a new horizon of choices, i.e., a new complexity to the society we live in,
rather than reducing it. And, of course, this is done in the hope that this deliberate
generation of a new complexity and its injection into archaeology opens up a new,
positively productive discursive space in contemporary society.
The foregoing suggests that the theoretical framework we draw upon in this volume
must not be based upon the premise that the complexity of the world can always be
reduced to certain ā€˜fundamentalsā€™ which are stable and determine the possible range
of deviation for things constituting the world (cf. Parsons 1951). Instead, the frame-
work will be the one which enables us both to accept that recognition of the com-
plexity of the world itself generates a new complexity in the world, and to grasp how
human beings coped with this endless reproduction of complexity in the past as well
as in the present. If we could grasp the issue that way, the difļ¬culty that contempo-
rary society and archaeology are faced with could be understood to result from the
increasing difļ¬culty we have in coping with the ever present/increasing complexity
of the world.
In any case, the question we have to begin asking is: how is society/sociality possible
despite the complexity inevitably involved in its generation and reproduction?

3.2 How do we live our lives socially?
Let us begin by asking the following: how do we live our lives socially? Or, how can
we grasp the nature of sociality?
It is a truism to say that the way in which we grasp the nature of sociality determines
the way we study society. Different ā€˜social archaeologiesā€™ draw upon different deļ¬-
nitions/understandings of the way society works as society. However, we can extract
one deļ¬ning trait almost universally shared by the schools coexisting within the dis-
cursive space of contemporary social archaeology; that is, sociality is understood to
be all about the stability of society or order in the working of society.
Since we started to explain, rather than merely describing, the past, we archaeol-
ogists have concentrated on how we can explain/understand the causes and mech-
anisms of the maintenance of social stability and order. Even when we claim to be
studying social change/transformation, understanding social stability has always been
regarded as a prerequisite in that social change is understood as the disturbance of
social stability and order. Accordingly, we archaeologists are trained to distinguish
between what is and what is not relevant to the study of social stability and social
order by ļ¬nding stable, that is statistically meaningful, patterns (e.g. Clarke 1978).
We are trained to choose and process certain types of information which are useful
for the observation of the nature and character of the stability and order of a given
community (e.g. Renfrew 1984). We are also trained to differentiate/articulate ways
in which we describe the causes and mechanisms of social stability and social order
and to discuss ways to describe them (Renfrew 1984).
In that regard, systemic, Marxist, and post-processual social archaeologies seem to
me not as different from one another as they would like to claim to be. Although their
principles of differentiating various archaeologically recognisable phenomena/factors
and categorising them into analytical units are different, they are structurally identical
Communication, sociality and positionality 37


in investigating the causal interconnections between the states of differentiated ana-
lytical units, each of which works to maintain social stability or order. The concepts
of negative/positive feedback (systemic approaches, cf. Clarke 1978), the conceal-
ment by an ideology of contradictions between analytical units such as infra- and
super-structures (Marxist approaches, cf. Kristiansen 1998), and domination and its
signiļ¬cation and legitimisation in the mode of social relations, i.e., relations between
agents (broad structurationist approaches, cf. Barrett 1994), are all about the pro-
duction and reproduction of stability and order.
Meanwhile, it has frequently been pointed out that differentiation between stability
and change is futile in understanding the working of society (e.g. Shanks and Tilley
1987, Chapter 6). Instead, the reproduction or continuous reconstitution of structures
and agentsā€™ identities has been proposed as the alternative subject matter for social
archaeology (cf. Barrett 1994). However, it is the recursive activation of internalised
expectations/values/norms that is often the theme of interpretative narratives put
forward within this framework. Internalised expectations/values/norms inevitably
have to be treated as stable, because internalisation is achieved through routinis-
ation, that is the recursive enactment of a certain set of practices. Although the
source of stability here is the ā€˜dynamicā€™ acts of individuals, what is illustrated is the
stable state of the reproduction of identities and structures, and the condition that
makes this possible. Furthermore, this approach tends to reduce diverse implications
of human acts to their recursiveness: unless they are recursively enacted, they are
not routinised/internalised, and hence, insigniļ¬cant. What cannot be/has not been
explained with this approach is why particular types of acts are recursively enacted
and internalised in speciļ¬c historical contexts and why they have to be internalised
in the ļ¬rst place.
It has to be noted that these issues all concern the ā€˜problem of orderā€™: why and how
social order emerges and is maintained. This problem is the core subject of modern
social scientiļ¬c investigations (e.g. Parsons 1951), and most of the theses concern-
ing the issue have either bracketed the ā€˜whyā€™ question or presuppose the pre-existence
of structural traits (ideology, social norms, etc.) which lead to the emergence and
maintenance of order. It is clear that the latter strategy results in a circular argument:
ideology/social norm mediates the formation and maintenance of an order, and the
maintenance of an order necessitates and leads to the formation of an ideology/social
norm. In short, stability and order are treated as if they are always there if society
works ā€˜normallyā€™. However, is that the case? Contemporary society is characterised
by a widespread sense of the collapse of the distinction between ā€˜normalā€™ and ā€˜abnor-
malā€™/ā€˜pathologicalā€™. Besides, as mentioned, it is the conviction of the pre-existence of
sociality that is currently in serious doubt. I wish to initiate the argument concerning
how to grasp sociality with the following question: how do stability and order emerge
in the ļ¬rst place?

3.3 Order and communication
I wish to build the following argument upon a basic fact: sociality emerges when two
or more individuals are co-present, i.e., share a locale. The ļ¬rst question has to be
how they can initiate their communication because communication is the basic unit
Archaeology, Society and Identity 38




Figure 3.1 Communication and sociality.



of sociality or social order (Luhmann 1995, Chapter 4). It seems that a fundamental
difļ¬culty exists in initiating communication in the ļ¬rst place, that is, it is impossible to
look inside the otherā€™s head: we human beings cannot directly observe what is going
on inside othersā€™ minds. How on earth can we initiate communication? Here, we are
bothered with the fact that we cannot possibly know what others are thinking when
we are about to initiate communication. This puts us in a state of indeterminacy:
in such a situation what we know is that we do not know what others are thinking
and that others also do not know what we are thinking. That means that we cannot
anticipate how the others will react to what we do/say, and that the others cannot
anticipate how we will react to what they do/say: there is no source by which to
decide what to do/say and how (Figure 3.1).
We normally have certain expectations as to how others will react when we act
towards them in a certain way in the form of norms, customs, and so on, but without
them, i.e., without actually knowing, or feeling we know, how others will react to
our act, how can we start communicating?
If we understand the work of individual minds, or ā€˜psychic systemsā€™, as closed
self-referential reproduction, though, this problem, the so-called ā€˜problem of orderā€™ in
the social sciences in general, becomes a sort of non-issue.1 An individual psychic
system works and reproduces itself by reducing the complexity of its environment,
constituted by internal organ systems, other psychic systems (constituting a part

1 The argument which follows draws heavily upon the thoughts of the late German sociologist Niklas
Luhmann. He devoted his social-theoretical endeavour to the development of a better way of under-
standing the relationship between human beings and the world in order to improve the way we reduce
the complexity of the world. He left behind an enormous amount of work, which has just begun to
be introduced to the Anglophone audience (e.g. Luhmann 1995). I will not attempt to produce an
introductory volume to his theory for archaeologists. Instead, I will rethink the way we archaeologists
think and write about the past in the present mediated by Luhmannā€™s thought (for a comprehensive
summary of his thought in general, see Luhmann 1995), and I will propose alternatives mediated by
his theory.
Communication, sociality and positionality 39




Figure 3.2 An individual psychic system and its environment: the reduction of complexity.



of other individuals/persons), communication systems, social systems, and so on
(Figure 3.2). By the ā€˜complexity of the environment (or, the world)ā€™ I mean that
there always exists in the environment more than two possible choices which can be
differentiated by an individual psychic system, one of which has to be chosen and
acted upon by the system.
The reduction of complexity in the form of making choices is conducted by utilis-
ing the boundary, that is by distinguishing between the psychic system itself and its
environment. By utilising the boundary, the psychic system distinguishes and selects
what does and does not matter to it. What is meant by ā€˜closed reproductionā€™ here is
this: by closing and bounding itself, a system opens itself to the environment, i.e., it
connects itself in its own manner to the environment by responding to selected elements
of the environment (Figure 3.2). The differentiation and selection of these elements
are conducted by drawing upon the psychic systemā€™s own internal structure, con-
stituted through its past operations/experiences, and the internal structure of the
system can neither be directly observed from the outside nor can the environment
directly intervene. A system and its environment never merge together. In order for
a person to act socially, in that sense, the person/ā€˜egoā€™ has to guess what is going on in
the ā€˜alterā€™sā€™ head by observing the alterā€™s act, and act by predicting how the alter will
react to it. The alter has to do the same in order to act. In other words, the very fact
that we cannot see what is going on inside the otherā€™s mind makes communication
inevitable, and, once initiated, communication has to continue; in order for the pre-
diction to be veriļ¬ed or falsiļ¬ed, the ego has to act/utter something and see how the
Archaeology, Society and Identity 40




Figure 3.3 Communication as distinction/choice/selection: information, utterance and understanding.



alter reacts to it. Communication goes on in this way, and as long as communication
goes on, sociality is generated and exists (Figure 3.1).


3.4 Communication and the subject
Next, we have to consider the nature of communication. We have recognised that
without two or more self-referentially reproducing psychic systems there is no com-
munication, hence, no sociality. The psychic systems involved in communication
mutually guess what the alter is thinking, and make sense of and predict the alterā€™s
acts by way of reducing the complexity of the communication. Communication is
constituted by information, utterance and understanding (Luhmann 1995, Chapter
4). The ego, when uttering, has to choose what information to utter and how to utter
it. The alter has to choose how to make sense of the difference between the utterance
and the information in order to understand the meaning of the utterance (Figure 3.3).
If the difference between the utterance and the information were not recognised by
the alter, communication would not continue; ā€˜Is this a pot?ā€™, ā€˜Yes it isā€™, end of story.
Communication, sociality and positionality 41


The difference between the utterance and the information can be compared to the
distinction between the description of the state of matter and the implications which
the act of describing the matter can yield. Both of them generate a horizon of choices
and necessitate their reduction, the former in the form of the selection of what to
describe and how to describe it, and the latter in the form of how to make sense of
what is uttered. However, it should be noted that without this distinction there is
no complexity generating communication: in that case, the utterance ends up as the
mere description of something and does not open up a horizon of choices/complexity.
Without complexity, communication cannot continue because communication
continues as a series of episodes of reducing complexity/making a choice out
of a horizon of choices. In that sense, communication is the unity of distinc-
tion/choice/selection made by those who are involved in it (Figure 3.3).
It has to be emphasised here, again, that the ego can make sense of the alterā€™s
utterance and continue to communicate only in a self-referential manner: whether or
not the ego has understood the difference between the information and the utterance
can only be guessed by the reaction of the alter to the egoā€™s reaction to the alterā€™s
utterance. It also has to be noted here that what one is thinking in oneā€™s head is often
quite different from the way one reports it, and this discrepancy is often the very
motivation for communication to continue. Even if the ego is annoyed with what the
ego understands the alter to mean, the ego can conceal its annoyance and carry on
conversing with the alter with a smile, for instance.
In that sense, importantly, no one involved in communication can control in a
straightforward manner the way it continues, nor can oneā€™s thinking directly inter-
vene/be connected to/control the way communication goes (Figure 3.3). Rather,
communication itself constitutes, as psychic systems do, a closed, self-referentially
reproduced system (Figure 3.4).
As mentioned above, communication cannot reproduce itself without the involve-
ment of two or more persons/psychic systems, but the way communication repro-
duces itself and the way psychic systems reproduce themselves can never be merged.
Even if two persons are deep in their own thoughts, they can still utter what they
regard as relevant information in the communication, and the communication can
continue. This means that communication cannot be reduced or attributed to
the work of individual psychic systems. Communication reproduces itself in a self-
referential manner as though being stimulated by the self-referential reproductions
of two or more psychic systems (Figure 3.4).
This recognition questions the validity of treating the individual as the basic unit
of social archaeological study (contra Meskell 1999, Chapter 1). We do not have to
be too much troubled by the issue of whether we can understand the ā€˜subjectā€™/the
mind of people in the present as well as in the past; as repeatedly emphasised, the
individual subjects are self-referentially reproducing closed systems, and they can
never genuinely understand each other. (And this is the case in the past as well as in
the present.) Rather, it is more accurate to suggest that they come to feel/come to believe
through communication that they understand each other. (This is the source of uncer-
tainty/indeterminacy in communication. Problems and implications concerning this
Archaeology, Society and Identity 42




Figure 3.4 Communication as a closed, self-referentially reproduced system.


will be investigated and how to come to terms with them considered throughout this
volume, particularly in Chapter 3.6 below and in Chapter 4.) In that sense, how
communications reproduce themselves as being ā€˜stimulatedā€™ by the acts/utterances
of individual persons is more important than how individual subjects/psychic systems
work, i.e., think (Figure 3.4).

3.5 Communication, boundary formation and expectations
In order for communication to reproduce itself, its elements have to collapse and be
replaced with new ones as long as it continues. Oneā€™s utterance has to stop in order
for others to utter back and make what is going on into communication. Otherwise,
what is going on is a monologue. In order for communication to reproduce itself,
in that sense, it has to differentiate what are its elements from what are not; the
new elements replacing the old have to be selected on the basis that they enable the
communication to continue, otherwise the communication dies out (Figure 3.5).
Communication, sociality and positionality 43




Figure 3.5 The continuation of communication and the reproduction of a systemā€“environment
boundary.


How this distinction is made is an important subject of investigation. If we under-
stand communication as a closed, self-referentially reproducing system, this distinc-
tion would be grasped as being made by utilising a systemā€“environment boundary. The
closed self-referential reproduction of a communication system, in that sense, can
be grasped as the ongoing process of reproducing the systemā€“environment bound-
ary. A communication system can be metaphorically compared to an island in an
ocean of complexity: on the island, guarded by its boundary, the complexity of the
ocean is reduced in a self-referentially constituted manner. Those who ā€˜stimulateā€™
the reproduction of a communication system, in return, are provided with reduced
Archaeology, Society and Identity 44


complexity in the form of certain expectations (Figure 3.5): anyone who takes part
in the reproduction of a communication system comes to feel s/he can predict how
the others who take part in the reproduction of that communication system will react
to his/her act. This also means that s/he also comes to feel that the others will also
predict how s/he will react to their act. This picture can be described thus: a commu-
nication system provides those who take part in, or stimulate the reproduction of,
the system with the precondition for their social action. At the same time, their action
provides the communication system with the precondition for the reproduction of
the system (Figure 3.5). In that sense, it can be argued, again, that communication
is the minimum unit of sociality.
Whether this distinction/systemā€“environment boundary is connected to a certain
symbol is also an important point for the generation and reproduction of sociality.
In order for sociality to become sociality, it has to be reproduced across a certain
timeā€“space extension. In order for this to take place, a communication system has
to be similarly reproduced across the same timeā€“space extension. If the systemā€“
environment boundary of a communication system could be connected to a certain
symbol, this would become possible; the presence of such a symbol as a symbolic
communication medium would stimulate the communication system to be reinitiated
wherever the symbol is present. We shall come back to the issue of how this con-
nection, or generation of symbolic communication media, can be made possible later
on.

3.6 Solving the uncertainty/indeterminacy of communication
As illustrated, communication can only be reproduced self-referentially. In other
words, communication can continue only by drawing upon the memory of its past
operation of making a distinction between what are and what are not its elements.
This means that there is nothing outside a communication that helps those who are
involved in the communication to make a distinction between what are and what
are not the elements of the communication. In theory, those who are involved in
the communication can only guess whether what they do (utter, act, and so on) is
recognised by others as elements of the communication by monitoring the way that
what they do is responded to by others. If the egoā€™s act/utterance is responded to
by the alter in the way the ego expects, the ego can assume that what s/he meant
is received by the alter in the way the ego meant it, and can carry on with that
communication. If s/he is responded to by the alter in a different way from what the
ego expects, the ego has to assume that what the ego meant was not received by the
alter in the way the ego meant it, and then has to consider how to act/utter things
differently. In other words, it takes time to know whether what one utters enables
communication to continue.
If we had to worry all the time about the above happening, the uncer-
tainty/indeterminacy involved in the reproduction of sociality, i.e., the recurrent
regeneration of communications, would be far too much. In other words, because
the ego has to decide whether what the ego meant was correctly understood by
the alter by observing how the alter reacted to the egoā€™s act and made sense of it,
Communication, sociality and positionality 45




Figure 3.6 Communication, sociality and ā€˜semanticsā€™.


there always exists a paradox that it is only the ego that can decide if the commu-
nication is going well by referring to anything other than itself. This difļ¬culty, the
presence of too high an uncertainty, caused by the intrinsic paradox of communica-
tion, is solved/reduced/ā€˜de-paradoxisedā€™ by what Luhmann describes as ā€˜semanticsā€™.
Semantics is a sort of repository of (a) the memories/knowledge of how communica-
tions were reproduced in the past and (b) such media as material items, gestures, and
so on which are connected to the memories/knowledge that reduce the uncertainty
in a certain way and enable those who are about to enter into a communication to
anticipate how they are supposed to act (Figure 3.6).
Such a ā€˜semanticsā€™ of communication, in other words, is the repository of ways
to make distinctions between what are and what are not the elements of a given
communication, and solves the uncertainty and indeterminacy of communication.
Its nature and character are related to the mode with which communication systems
are differentiated and interconnected. Luhmann recognises the following modes that
exist in the history of the human being:

(a) In the social formation in which different communication systems are allocated
different temporal components and everyone belonging to the society is involved
in their reproduction, the semantics which ensure the reproduction of those
communication systems would take the form of ā€˜traditionsā€™. Luhmann himself
describes such a pattern of the differentiation of communication systems as ā€˜seg-
mentary differentiationā€™. In an archaeo-anthropological evolutionary framework,
this can roughly be compared to the Band/Tribal social formation.
(b) In the social formation in which different communication systems are hierar-
chically organised, the semantics would take the form of ā€˜religionā€™ which ver-
iļ¬es the distinction of what are and are not the elements of a communication
according to who utters/does what: the hierarchical positionings of people, it
was believed, were predetermined by god, and the king, the embodiment of the
godā€™s will, is regarded as always right in his/her utterances and deeds. In that
Archaeology, Society and Identity 46


sense, the god and the king are the ultimate referents for solving the uncertainty
and indeterminacy of communication. Luhmann describes such a pattern of
the differentiation of communication systems as ā€˜hierarchical differentiationā€™.
In an archaeo-anthropological framework, this can roughly be compared to the
Chiefdom/pre-modern state social formation.
(c) In the social formation in which different communication systems are horizon-
tally organised, the semantics would take the form of ā€˜etiquettesā€™, ā€˜tastesā€™, and
so on that concern how individuals ought to act as individuals regardless of their
hierarchical social afļ¬liation. Luhmann describes such a pattern of the differen-
tiation of communication systems as ā€˜functional differentiationā€™. In an archaeo-
anthropological framework, it can roughly be compared to the modern-state
social formation and thereafter.

Archaeology, according to this schematic understanding, is the reproduction of
a communication system in ā€˜functional differentiationā€™, i.e., the social formation
called ā€˜modernityā€™. This leads us to the inference that the problems and difļ¬culties
we archaeologists are confronted with in contemporary society, and that are the
subjects of this volumeā€™s investigation, are derived from the way we make sense
of, or have difļ¬culty making sense of, functionally differentiated communication
systems and from the difļ¬culty in reproducing communications, archaeological or
otherwise, in functional differentiation.

3.7 Transformation of communication systems and ā€˜semanticsā€™
If we summarise the above argument, social transformation can be grasped as the
transformation of

(1) the way individual communication systems are constituted and reproduced,
(2) the way communication systems are differentiated and organised/conļ¬gurated,
(3) the way the reproduction of communication systems is made possible, or their
uncertainty and indeterminacy solved, by ā€˜semanticsā€™.

Factor (1) can be observed in the form of a change in the range of the elements of
individual communication systems and the way the elements are structured. Factor
(2) can be observed in the form of a change in the number of communication sys-
tems constituting a society and the way they are related to one another, i.e., either
hierarchically or horizontally. Factor (3) can be observed in the form of a transfor-
mation in patterns observed in individual communication systems, i.e., recurrent
words/phrases, recurrent themes, recurrent gestures/acts, recurrent concepts, and
so on.
In actuality, these factors are interconnected, and are experienced as the increas-
ing likelihood of experiencing unfulļ¬lled expectations in the way the communication
goes. A change in the range of the elements of a communication system and a change
in the way they are connected would make expectations of the way the communica-
tion goes, formed through previous experiences, increasingly unfulļ¬lled. That would
also be the case when the number of communication systems constituting a society
Communication, sociality and positionality 47


increases and the way they are interconnected/organised spatio-temporally changes.
These changes lead to the generation of a new set of semantics, helping the newly-
differentiated communication systems reproduce and interconnect smoothly.
The above illustrates the sort of change which Luhmann points out happened
during the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe, and he
contends that it marked the transition from hierarchical to functional differentiation.
In this case, hierarchical differentiation roughly coincides with pre-modern social
formations in which the distinction between what are and what are not the elements
of a given communication system is made according to those who utter them. Accord-
ingly, the semantics supporting such a distinction and reproduction of communi-
cation systems was related to the hierarchical order of the world and the religious
doctrines/beliefs supporting the order. In such a social formation, what the king
utters, as the embodiment of the godā€™s will, is always regarded as right, and the
uncertainty of communication is and can be solved by referring to the kingā€™s words
and deeds. In functional differentiation, which roughly coincides with modern social
formation, the semantics become non-hierarchical norms such as etiquettes, tastes,
morality, and so on which enable individuals to take part and identify their posi-
tions/stances in communication systems which are horizontally and functionally dif-
ferentiated. Hence, the reference to the hierarchical positioning of individuals and the
hierarchical world view/order that often took the form of religious doctrines became
redundant, and instead how individuals identiļ¬ed themselves in various communi-
cation systems became vital for dealing with the uncertainty of communication.
The disciplinisation of archaeology, an example of which we have already seen in
the excavation method of General Pitt Rivers in Chapter 2, took place in many parts
of the world sometime during the nineteenth century. That means it took place when
the transition toward functional differentiation was already well under way. How can
this event ļ¬t into the above picture? In preparation for investigating the issue, let me
brieļ¬‚y illustrate a model of the relationship between functional differentiation and
archaeology.

3.8 ā€˜Symbolic communication mediaā€™ of modernity and archaeology
As mentioned, a society based upon functionally differentiated communication sys-
tems, i.e., a modern society, is constituted by horizontally differentiated communi-
cation systems, each of which reproduces itself in a self-referential manner. In other
words, these systems cannot be reproduced by referring to a single, unifying struc-
turing principle and allied factors such as social hierarchy and the religion/cosmology
supporting it. Instead, they reproduce themselves by referring only to themselves,
i.e., how they were reproduced before. Through such self-referential reproduction,
individual communication systems develop distinct binary codes of distinction by which
what are and are not the elements of a given system are distinguished.
For instance, the economic communication system reproduces itself by the dis-
tinction between payment and non-payment; the political communication system
by the distinction between being in power and not being in power; the scientiļ¬c
communication system by the distinction between truth and fallacy; the religious
Archaeology, Society and Identity 48


communication system by the distinction between moral and immoral; and the
education communication system by the distinction between what is good or bad
for oneā€™s development/career. Each of these binary codes is connected to a sym-
bolic communication medium, for instance the economic code may be connected
to money: when money is present, the communication to be articulated is bound to
be about payment or non-payment.
How does archaeology ļ¬t into the picture? In considering the position of archae-
ology in functional differentiation, referring to the foregoing, one thing seems to
me of particular importance: that is, a parallelism between the nature of the sym-
bolic communication media of functional differentiation/modernity and that of the
archaeological material. Saying this might be confusing initially, but it seems there is
something homologous between, for instance, the way money as a symbolic communi-
cation medium functions as money and the way archaeological material functions as
archaeological material. In order to fully understand the homology between money
and archaeological material, we have to embark on a rather lengthy process of explor-
ing the function and its mechanism of symbolic communication media.
Working as the medium of a communication means that it is perceived to signify
something, a ā€˜distinctionā€™ in our framework, in the communication. Signiļ¬cation,
in that sense, as illustrated in Chapter 3.4, characteristically opens up two horizons
of choice: the signiļ¬cation of something by a medium leads one to two domains of
choices: (1) choosing one referent from a range of equivalents; and (2) choosing
how to react to the signiļ¬cation, i.e., how to act upon the choice which he or she
has made about it. Communication goes on as a process consisting of the recurrent
sequence of the emergence/articulation of such horizons and certain choices made
about them.
The symbolic communication media of functional differentiation direct people to
making certain choices and enable communication systems to reproduce smoothly
across time and space. In other words, in order for money to function that way,
those who live in the domain within which it functions, i.e., is circulated as a cur-
rency, have to be homogeneous. Let me explain. Those who are mediated in their
social communication, in this case, transaction by a currency, have to be directed to
a certain horizon of choices, the horizon of choices consisting of the payment and
the non-payment. In other words, they have to be able to believe that they share a
certain horizon of choices and a tendency to make a certain choice in it, i.e., pay-
ment. Homogeneity here means that people are homogeneous in sharing/believing
they share a set of expectations concerning the communication reproduced through
the mediation of a currency: they are homogeneous in that they can predict the ways
in which the others sharing the domain react to them in the transaction mediated by
the currency regardless of their backgrounds, i.e., group afļ¬liations (including ā€˜class
afļ¬liationā€™), the regions they live in, the religion they practise, and so on. It can be
deduced from this that the people whose communication is mediated by a currency
are made to identify themselves not with their directly shared, hence concrete and
localised, experience but with something abstract and universal. By ā€˜universalā€™ in this
case I mean that something is perceived, within a certain spatio-temporal domain, to
Communication, sociality and positionality 49




Figure 3.7 Symbolic communication media and the ā€˜transcendentalā€™.



guarantee that a system of signiļ¬ers signiļ¬es a system of referents. In this contem-
porary world, i.e., modernity/functional differentiation, a nation-state constitutes
the basic unit which functions as such a domain, and a conceptual construct with
the potential to gravitate all sorts of meanings and memories called a ā€˜nationā€™ func-
tions as that ā€˜somethingā€™, something abstract and universal, i.e., the transcendental
(Figure 3.7).
Within the domain of a nation-state, people are disembedded from their localised
existential base and are made into homogeneous and abstract entities called ā€˜citizensā€™,
as mentioned in Chapter 2 above. In that sense, what makes money work as money
is the coupling of the disembedding of the individual person from the localised
existential base and the re-embedding of the individual person in abstract constructs
such as the nation, and it has been pointed out that this took place in the formation
process of modern nation-states, as illustrated in Chapter 2.2 (cf. Anderson 1991). In
other words, the mutual, i.e., circular, mediation between symbolic communication
media and the homogenisation of the people constituting a society was mediated by
the existence of the nation-state.
Archaeology, Society and Identity 50


The nation-state and its symbolic communication media such as money mutually
mediate their own existence. The latter mediate the communication between citizens
in a manner which is totally irrelevant to their localised base of self identiļ¬cation.
What is particularly important here is that this does not mean that the selves of all
the citizens are made homogeneous; on the contrary, the existence of these symbolic
communication media allows every citizen to be different from one another; they
are relieved from communal constraints to be the same. That means that all the
selves constituting a nation-state have to be made to feel able to communicate with
one another in spite of their mutually predicted differences, and in order for that
to be achieved the citizens have to be made to assume/imagine that they all share
a set of values, norms, and so on that do not derive from shared and accumulated,
hence concrete, local knowledge and experiences but come out of something felt
to be more deep-rooted, abstract, and, most important of all, delocalised within the
domain of the nation-state. In other words, a nation-state needs a transcendental entity
with which its citizens can identify themselves. A transcendental entity is needed to
make the citizens, despite their predictable differences rather than similarities, believe
that they can understand one another anytime anywhere within the domain of the
nation-state to a degree which cannot be achieved with citizens belonging to other
nation-states.
Now we can start looking into the homologous parallelism and interdependence
between the nation-state, symbolic communication media, and archaeological mate-
rial. Let me begin by reiterating the following: in order for the transcendental to be
genuinely transcendental, it has to be abstract, i.e., it has to be delocalized and detem-
poralised. It has to be stable and remain unchanged in any circumstances in order for
it to fulļ¬l the functional requirement illustrated above. The ultimate form of such
transcendental entities, in that sense, is ā€˜nothingnessā€™: only the non-existent entity,
itself a contradiction of the concept, is totally and completely free from any con-
textuality/value commitment. However, no such entity exists, nor can it exist; tran-
scendental entities can function as communication media because of their existence
as media, i.e., their existence as something to mediate something, which inevitably
makes them localised and temporalised to a degree.
There are two strategies to overcome the trouble. One is to bring such entities
ever closer to ā€˜nothingnessā€™ (Figure 3.8). Another is to make them appear unļ¬xable
to any spatio-temporal position. A good example of such strategies at work would be
the Japanese imperial family.2 (This analogy will later come to have concrete impli-
cations for the argument of this volume.) It exists, but it does not fulļ¬l any explicitly
meaningful function, nor is the meaning of the existence explicitly explained. It is
formally deļ¬ned in the constitution as the ā€˜symbol of the integration of the nationā€™,
and its members engage in various public ceremonies. However, it does not do, and
avoids being engaged in, or avoids being publicly seen/perceived to be engaged in,
anything which is directly linked to the life and interests of the citizens of Japan
(e.g. Ruoff 2001). Its members do not have a family register, i.e., they are legally no

2 Cf. the home page of the imperial household agency www.kunaicho.go.jp/eindex.html.
Communication, sociality and positionality 51




Figure 3.8 The nation-state, the citizen and the transcendental.


one. Their genealogy is believed to go back to the beginning of history, shrouded in
the mists of time (Ruoff 2001). They are there to be known to be there, but no one
knows nor can describe who exactly they are or what they are for. They, like a vacuum
which has to be ļ¬lled by ā€˜ļ¬‚oating signiļ¬ersā€™, accumulate meanings and memories
of every possible sort. It has to be hastily added, however, that the imperial familyā€™s
functioning as a symbolic vacuum does not mean that their existence is unrelated to
the generation/execution of power and dominance in Japan as a nation-state. On the
contrary, their existence and their ontological status in the Japanese psyche gener-
ated and is still generating power in the form of structuring the psyche, and hence
disposition, of the Japanese and their behaviour (e.g. Sakai 1996, Chapter 5). We
shall come back to this point in the next chapter.
There are certain structural parallels between archaeological material and such
transcendental entities, and that makes archaeological discourse an ideal locus where
such transcendental entities reside. The primary subjects of archaeological investi-
gation are artefacts and features which have been buried. They ļ¬x their identity
spatio-temporally in the form of being attributed to certain strata, and they are
meaningless archaeologically unless they are ļ¬xed to certain chrono-cultural posi-
tions. At the same time, they cannot be linked directly to anything in the contem-
porary world. They are archaeological material because they have been left behind,
i.e., disconnected with agency, and cannot be attributed to any concrete, directly
observable, human action. They can only be attributed to concrete human actions
through mediation, i.e., theoretico-methodological mediation, which takes place in
Archaeology, Society and Identity 52


the contemporary world. Besides, the identiļ¬cation of the chrono-cultural positions
of archaeological material itself inevitably has to be through a theory/method-laden
mediation process in the present, because it is well recognised that the identiļ¬cation
of the boundaries of a stratum, for instance, is inļ¬‚uenced by the way the observer
make sense of the stratumā€™s position in a wider context and that understanding is
constituted by the observerā€™s theoretico-methodological position taking in the con-
temporary topography of archaeological method and theory (Hodder 1999, Chapter
5). This means that every possible archaeological communication is about that which
is temporalised and localised as deposits and at the same time about that which is
decontextualised through mediation in the contemporary world. And this coupling
of contextualisedness and decontextualisedness in one entity nicely coincides with what
is required for the transcendental guarantee of the internal homogeneity of nation-
states.
In that sense, archaeology constitutes an ideal imaginary locus where the tran-
scendental is imagined to reside. And, in that sense, for instance, it is natural that
the coupling of archaeology and the Japanese imperial family, embodied by the study
of reconstructing the genealogy of the ancient paramount chiefs, the supposed pre-
decessors of the present emperor, by studying the gigantic keyhole-shaped tumuli,
one of the most intensely studied topics in Japanese archaeology, tacitly but signiļ¬-
cantly contributes to the maintenance of the sense of the internal homogeneity of the
nation-state of Japan, as will be fully illustrated in Chapter 4.4. To put it differently,
the archaeological communication system of the Japanese emperor system and its
roots provides other communication systems with the feeling that their reproduction,
going on in a self-referential manner in actuality and in that sense having nothing
outside to guarantee their truth/existence, is guarded and guaranteed by a shared,
homogeneous set of values, norms, and so on: i.e., a shared identity, which is most
often described as a ā€˜nationā€™. In that sense, archaeological material functions as a
symbolic communication medium, like money, in the form of distinguishing between
what is and what is not relevant to the identiļ¬cation of the Japanese and, hence, dis-
tinguishing what is and what is not good for the identiļ¬cation of the Japanese.
A considerable portion of this volumeā€™s investigation and argumentation is to be
devoted to the analytical, ā€˜thickā€™ description of the working of this fateful coupling of
modernity, the nation-state and archaeology, and the functioning of archaeological
material as a symbolic communication medium, by looking into the case of Japan.
Before concluding this chapter, though, we have to pose a question: what can we
do about this fateful coupling?

3.9 Communication, modernity, and the positionality of archaeology
Can we ever overcome the fateful coupling of modernity, the nation-state and archae-
ology, which constitutes the positionality of archaeology, and which has continued to
generate hostility and division between what are imagined or desired to be internally
homogeneous, such as ā€˜nationsā€™, ā€˜ethnic groupsā€™, ā€˜cultural groupsā€™, or whatever? The
answer would have to be ā€˜noā€™ as long as we continue to live in the social formation
which is described as functional differentiation/modern, which is based upon a drive
Communication, sociality and positionality 53


to homogenise people and things within a domain of shared interests and a drive
to differentiate those who do not or are perceived not to share them. Both endless
homogenisation and endless differentiation need the transcendental as the ultimate
guarantors of their continuation. It is very difļ¬cult, in actuality, to detach archae-
ology from the desire to seek the transcendental, because it is the positionality of
archaeology, which is identical to that of the symbolic communication media of
functional differentiation/modernity, which enables archaeology to exist as such.
Furthermore, the tendency that this positionality implies, i.e., its functioning as
a generator of a symbolic communication medium, mediating communication and
homogenising those who are involved in it, is being enhanced as functional differen-
tiation is reaching the point where imagining the transcendental, which ultimately
mediates the reproduction of horizontally juxtaposed communication systems, is
increasingly difļ¬cult. In systemic response to this, dangerously exaggerated views
enhancing the transcendental quality of the archaeological narrative, as well as that
of other narrative ļ¬elds, are increasingly common. (We will come back to this issue
in Chapter 5.)
However, despite the difļ¬culties, and despite recognising them, we have to start
somewhere. We can at least seek a better way to understand the positionality of
archaeology, i.e., the nature and underlying logic of the coupling between modernity,
the nation-state and archaeology. If we were able to do anything about it, we would
have to start there, and, seeking a better way to understand it, by drawing upon the
above-illustrated theoretical framework, is the ultimate theme of this volume.
4
Nation-state, circularity and paradox




4.1 Introduction
As mentioned above, the connection between nationalism and archaeology is now
well recognised (e.g. Hodder, ed. 1991, Diaz-Andreu and Champion 1996, Kohl
and Fawcett 1996). Innumerable papers have been written describing the ways in
which particular elements of nationalism and archaeology are connected. It has also
been pointed out that individual nation-states functioned, and still function, as the
boundary-markers of the contexts in which speciļ¬c connections between modern
institutions and archaeology were, and are, constituted and reproduced. However,
the mechanism and process at work behind the seemingly organic interdependence
between nationalism, modernity and archaeology do not appear to be fully investi-
gated. For instance, why was archaeology mobilised particularly intensively in the
constitution of national identity? The question has often been answered by referring
to the artiļ¬ciality, or constructedness, of the modern nation-state and its necessary
masking/naturalisation, and it has been claimed that archaeology and archaeological
narratives have been mobilised to naturalise/mask it (e.g. Sorensen 1996). However,
the question still remains: why archaeology? Why has archaeology been mobilised to
fulļ¬l that function in such an intensive manner?
I proposed a tentative answer to this question in Chapter 3 by arguing that archae-
ological material suits the function of a symbolic communication medium which, being
connected to transcendental concepts and beings such as primordial ethno-national
identities and, in the case of Japan, the emperor and his genealogical longevity (cf.
Smith 1986, 2001, 51ā€“57), helps to reproduce communication systems necessary
for the maintenance of a modern nation-state across time and space within the
boundary of that nation-state. What follows will examine the validity of that the-
sis and also investigate the actual processes through which archaeological material
comes to function as a symbolic communication medium. This work, meanwhile,
will also be a process of investigating the positionality of archaeology as a communi-
cation system in classical modernity/functional differentiation.1 By ā€˜the positionality
of archaeologyā€™ I mean which communication system(s) constituting modern society
is/are coupled with (mutually inļ¬‚uence) the archaeological communication system
particularly deeply and in what manner?
I will conduct the work by using the history of Japanese archaeology and Japan as
a modern nation-state as the subject of three case studies. Modernisation and the

1 See the deļ¬nition of this concept and its difference from late-/high-/post-modernity in Chapter 2.3.


55
Archaeology, Society and Identity 56


formation of the modern nation-state, as touched upon in Chapter 2 above, took
place as a highly integrated process in Japan (Nishikawa 1995), and archaeology
played a signiļ¬cant role (cf. Teshigawara 1995, 33ā€“120; Oguma 1995, 73ā€“86).
The process was accelerated by pressure from the outside, mainly from western
colonial powers, and led Japan to become the only country in the region of East
Asia not only spared colonisation but also to colonise neighbouring countries/areas,
namely Korea and Taiwan (Oguma 1995). In all, Japan experienced not only mod-
ernisation and the formation of a nation-state but also colonialism almost as a single,
uniļ¬ed process. As a result, the inevitable artiļ¬ciality surrounding the nation-state,
which was illustrated in Chapter 2, was exposed in a highly tangible manner and yet
concealed in a sophisticated way at the same time. That makes Japan a particularly
intriguing and suitable arena in which to investigate and interpret, by fully utilis-
ing the theoretical package illustrated in Chapter 3, the nature and character of the
interdependence between classical modernity and archaeology.
The history of Japanese archaeology also offers us an interesting case of the con-
nection between modernity, various ļ¬elds of self identiļ¬cation and archaeology. As
illustrated below, the national identity of Japan and the boundary of the Japanese,
i.e., how the Japanese should be deļ¬ned, or who was and who was not Japanese,
were constituted in two semi-autonomous but mutually inļ¬‚uencing spheres (e.g.
Oguma 1995, Komori 2001). One was reproduced through colonial expansion to
neighbouring countries and the other was reproduced through the negotiation of the
position of Japan as a newly founded nation-state with the west (e.g. Oguma 1995;
Kan 2001; Komori 2001). The coexistence of these two spheres in the discourse
of the national identity of Japan and the boundary of the Japanese had a signiļ¬-
cant effect upon the way Japanese pre-Second World War archaeology operated and
upon the way it functioned as a communication system tightly interconnected with
the constitution of the identity of the Japanese.
After Japanā€™s catastrophic defeat in the Second World War in 1945, the former
sphere virtually disappeared, and the arena of the reproduction of national identity
and the identity of the Japanese became pretty much conļ¬ned to the sphere of the
negotiation of identity with the west, in which the United States played a crucial
role not only as the most inļ¬‚uential politico-economic force in the western block
but also as the axis along which the dividing line in the shared realm of perception
between right and left, progressive and conservative, and so on, was drawn. In other
words, Japan and its psyche were ļ¬rmly and strategically embedded in the Cold War
equilibrium.
This unique socio-political/economic landscape of self identiļ¬cation basically con-
tinued to exist until the end of the Cold War era, when the relatively stable structure
of the post-Second World War socio-political/economic landscape in which Japan
had been ļ¬rmly situated since 1945 collapsed and not only national self identiļ¬-
cation but also the self identiļ¬cation of individual citizens came to face increasing
difļ¬culty (cf. Osawa 1998). This last change, which we will investigate in Chapter
5, is also deeply related to the intensiļ¬cation of the constitutive characteristics of
Nation-state, circularity and paradox 57


modernity/functional differentiation, which is commonly described as the coming of
the high- or late- or post-modern (Osawa 1998).
The above-mentioned events and factors also make Japan particularly suitable
to investigate the issue, ā€˜why archaeology?ā€™; the situation surrounding Japan as a
nation-state has been through drastic changes over a relatively short period of time,
and the changes went hand-in-hand with changes in the way archaeological narra-
tives are articulated and mobilised. However, it will be suggested that there exists
an unchanged ā€˜coreā€™, in other words ā€˜structuring principlesā€™, which function to dif-
ferentiate what is suitable/appropriate from what is unsuitable/inappropriate for the
reproduction of archaeological discourse.2 By revealing the unchanged structur-
ing principles underpinning changing archaeological narratives (it will be suggested
that they are deeply related to the emperor system), it is hoped that we can reveal
what makes archaeology particularly relevant to the formation of modernity and the
nation-state.
What follows, consisting of three case studies, will tackle the above-mentioned
issues from three different angles. We shall begin by tracing the history of Japanese
archaeology from the foundation of the modern Japanese nation-state (AD 1868) to
the 1970s by focusing on the co-transformation of the basic structure of the archae-
ological discourse/communication system and the way that national identity and
the identity of the Japanese are constituted. How the paradox and artiļ¬ciality (see
Chapters 2 and 3, 3 in particular) of the nation-state of Japan were de-paradoxised
through the mediation of the archaeological past, by way of ā€˜ļ¬ndingā€™ unique ā€˜ethnic
charactersā€™ in the past, will be given particular attention; and the shadow cast by,
and the crucial function fulļ¬lled by, the emperor system will be examined. As brieļ¬‚y
touched upon in Chapter 3.8, the emperor is an example of the ā€˜transcendentalā€™,
universally mobilised in the process of the foundation of the nation-state.
The second case study concerns the visual representation of the past: an analysis
of a textbook drawing. Representation, here, does not simply mean the depiction
of a scene which might have been seen in the past. Rather, it means the creation of
a space where a speciļ¬c horizon of choices is visually differentiated, and different,
competing ways to make certain choices are articulated. In other words, represen-
tation opens up a space in which the hegemony is fought over the way a symbolic
communication medium functions. By referring to or being helped by a symbolic
communication medium, as mentioned, people make distinctions in a certain man-
ner between what are and are not the elements of a communication system, whereby
the communication system is reproduced smoothly and with a certain directional-
ity across time/space barriers. Hegemony, in this case, is sought over the control of
the expectations which people have when they enter the communication system. This
means that representation is also about hegemony over the way people identify them-
selves, because what expectation one has of others when initiating communication

2 The existence of such stable structuring principles is itself a symptomatic characteristic of classical
modernity (see Chapter 2).
Archaeology, Society and Identity 58


is his or her identity itself. School textbook drawings, in that sense, are spaces for
struggle over the hegemony of the identity of children, or, to be more speciļ¬c, the
identity of the (future) citizens of a nation.
The study will reveal that the ideal model of a nation-state adopted in the con-
struction process of the modern nation-state of Japan, in which the emperor system
played a key role, constitutes the axis of dispute/distinction in the drawing and ofļ¬-
cially ordered redrawing of the picture, despite the fact that the model is supposed
to have been denounced and discarded as the fundamental source of the catastrophe
which Japan experienced in the process toward and during the Second World War.
It will be argued that symbolic images of the ethnie are repeatedly evoked whenever
the legitimacy and continuation of the nation-state becomes an issue, and the images
tend to copy the image of the ideal society which was constructed at the time of the
foundation of the nation-state, at the time of the Meiji restoration.
The third case study concerns the dominant trend in the approach to the begin-
ning of the Kofun (mounded tomb) period (c. third to sixth century AD), which is
characterised by gigantic keyhole-shaped tumuli, a number of which are designated
as ā€˜imperial mausoleaā€™ (Figure 4.1) (cf. Mizoguchi 2002, Chapter 2, esp. 40ā€“42).
One of the dominant approaches to the study of the period is to trace the sequential
order of the keyhole-shaped tumuli of a regional unit in order to reconstruct the
regional chieļ¬‚y genealogy. The approach presupposes a number of things, one of
which, of importance for the argument in this volume, is that the system of unilin-
ear male-line descent was already established at the beginning of the Kofun period,
when keyhole-shaped tumuli sequences began to be formed in many regional units
of the western half and parts of the eastern half of the archipelago (e.g. Kobayashi
1961, Chapter 4). However, the outcomes of recent osteoarchaeological analyses
and related reanalyses of the mortuary practices of the period prior to the begin-
ning of the Kofun period, i.e., the Late Yayoi period, have revealed that neither the
system of unilinear male-line inheritance had been established nor had the position
of the chieļ¬‚y household of a given regional unit been consolidated. This strongly
suggests that the status of the predecessor of the imperial household had not been
established/consolidated when the formation of the sequential construction of large
keyhole-shaped tumuli began in the present-day Nara prefecture, central Honshu
island.
Other types of archaeological information also suggest that the centralisation of
power and authority had not yet been achieved at the beginning of the period and
remained thus until the beginning of the later part of the period. However, the main
trend of the study of the Kofun period appears to take it for granted that the begin-
ning of the period marked the establishment of the system of unilinear male-line
descent/inheritance and the centralisation of power and authority possessed by those
who were buried in the earlier examples of the largest keyhole-shaped tumuli of the
present-day Nara prefecture. It tries to interpret the available data, which quite often
do not ļ¬t the above-mentioned presumptions, in the illustrated way. My contention
will be that here again is the shadow of the emperor system and its positionality
in contemporary Japan: the presence of the emperor and the imperial family as
Nation-state, circularity and paradox 59




Figure 4.1 The ā€˜mausoleumā€™ of Emperor Ojin (length: c. 415 metres, diameter of the round part:
c. 256 metres. Width of the end of the rectangular part: c. 330 metres. The second largest tumulus
in the archipelago in length. Modiļ¬ed from Fuji et al. 1964).



the ā€˜symbol of the integration of the nationā€™, and, more importantly, the symbol and
embodiment of the continuous existence of the Japanese ethnie (Smith 1986; Okubo,
et al. 2005, 5ā€“6), has constituted the axis along which archaeologistsā€™ approaches to
the period are determined, regardless of whether consciously or unconsciously and
regardless of whether archaeologists are for or against the emperor system. In that
sense, the emperor system functions as a symbolic medium which helps to initiate
and reproduce communication concerning the Kofun period, and one of the deter-
minant traits of this symbolic medium is the mythology of the continuation of the
imperial household, the mythology of the uninterrupted, unilineal genealogy since
the beginning of its history, the history, the history of Japan. At the same time, archae-
ology functions to reproduce communication concerning the emperor system and
its uninterrupted unilinear genealogy since the beginning of the Kofun period. This
is a typical example of the circularity surrounding the nation-state and the ethnie.
Archaeology, Society and Identity 60


The Japanese experience up to the end of the Cold War era, examined through
the three case studies, mirrors the difļ¬culties which the individual, stimulating the
reproduction of the function-differentiated communication systems of modernity,
was faced with. The case studies will illustrate the particular semantics and symbolic
communication media generated to solve the problem of indeterminacy in function-
differentiated communication systems and that of the artiļ¬ciality and paradox of
the modern nation-state as a spatio-temporal unit mediating their reproduction as
theoretically deduced in Chapter 3.


4.2 Unbearable artiļ¬ciality of being: the state and the emperor system
Archaeology and the self-imagining of a nation
Edward Sylvester Morse, an American zoologist who taught biology at the Faculty
of Science, University of Tokyo between 1877 and 1879, is widely regarded as the
founding father of modern Japanese archaeology (parts of the following arguments in
this section are from Mizoguchi 2005a). His excavation of the Omori shell-middens
on the outskirts of Tokyo and the publication of the ļ¬ndings in the form of a volume
entitled Shell Mounds of Omori (Memoirs of the Science Department, Vol. 1, Part 1) are
highly praised today as the work of a Darwinian evolutionary theory inļ¬‚uenced, and
hence at the time a most progressive, modern scientiļ¬c mind (Kondo and Sahara
1983, 185ā€“188; Teshigawara 1995, 33ā€“35).
Meanwhile, it has been pointed out that Morseā€™s academic legacy was not prop-
erly inherited (Kondo and Sahara 1983, 211ā€“214). The seeming abruptness and
deliberateness of the ā€˜cut-offā€™ are often emphasised. For instance, Shogoro Tsuboi,
the ļ¬rst professor of the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Science
of the University of Tokyo (founded in 1893), and a founding father of Japanese
modern archaeology, is recorded to have actively denied not only inļ¬‚uence from
but also contact with Morse on numerous occasions, despite the fact that Tsuboi
himself recorded that he contacted Morse for the identiļ¬cation of pot sherds he had
collected (Teshigawara 1995, 39ā€“40). It has been speculated that resentment of the
outside inļ¬‚uence, in this case one from a colonial power, was the cause (e.g. Oguma
1995, 30). In fact, though, a very particular part of his legacy was inherited; that
is, his interest in the ļ¬rst inhabitants of the archipelago (Kondo and Sahara 1983,
136ā€“153). The issue of the origin(s) of the ā€˜Japaneseā€™ was the subject of a heated
debate which characterised the early history of Japanese archaeology.
The issue of the origin of a nation, or a race which constitutes the foundation
of the nation, surfaces and comes to be pursued as an issue of self identiļ¬cation
almost whenever the condition surrounding a nation-state is problematised, and the
background against which it takes place has already been explicated theoretically in
Chapter 3. The history of Japan from the Meiji restoration (AD 1868) up to the end
of the Second World War can be written as the continuous reproblematisation of the
national identity and the boundary of the Japanese as a category of people. The two
above-mentioned spheres of self identiļ¬cation: (a) self identiļ¬cation through colonial
expansion and (b) self identiļ¬cation through negotiation with the west, coexisted as
their proportional signiļ¬cance continuously changed in relation to one another, and
Nation-state, circularity and paradox 61


those spheres were integrated in the realm of perception through the mediation of a
conceptual construct, viz. the notion of Koku (nation/state)-tai (body), the ā€˜national
bodyā€™.
As illustrated in Chapter 1, the formation of a ā€˜nationā€™ is an important condition
for a nation-state to establish the institutions which inevitably ā€˜disembedā€™ people
and transform/reorganise them into citizens. Anthony Giddens deļ¬nes the concept
of disembedding thus: the ā€˜lifting outā€™ of social relations from local contexts of inter-
action and their restructuring across indeļ¬nite spans of timeā€“space (1990, 21). With
the purpose of adjusting it to the argument which follows, by ā€˜disembeddingā€™ I mean
the uprooting of a behavioural norm and set of expectations for everyday life that
were formerly embedded in the local knowledge which was formed and reproduced
through the direct, recurrent sharing of experiences. In order to enable those who are
uprooted to live in a proper way, or function, in a systemic whole called a nation-
state, whose domain far exceeds that of immediate, day-to-day experience, an imag-
inary communal unit such as a nation, based upon an imagined/articulated ā€˜ethnieā€™
(Smith 1986), whose spatial extension is perceived to coincide with the domain of a
nation-state, has to be created in order to re-embed them in an imaginary sphere of
shared/for sharing everyday experiences, and to enable them to imagine and believe
that they are organically connected to one another despite the distance lying between
them, and to make them ā€˜feel secureā€™ again, i.e., feel they know how to behave in
virtually any kind of context as long as it is either situated in the domain of the
nation-state or occupied by those who belong to that nation.
The ā€˜national bodyā€™ of the nation-state of Japan was a unique variant of the con-
cept of the nation. Citizenship, a prerequisite for the establishment of a nation-
state, had to be established very quickly in Japan as the new nation-state had to be
hastily created to counter pressure from western colonial powers, which had already
colonised China (in the 1840s) and India (in the 1850s). However, it was a daunting
task. In the case of the European nation-states, the establishment of citizenship had
been a long, slow-moving process which began during the era of absolute monar-
chy. The precursors of modern institutions, such as a standing army and taxation,
gradually disembedded people from the conceptual as well as the physical land-
scape formed through their local, everyday, and predominantly agrarian experiences
(e.g. Foucault 1977). The working of these institutions also prepared people for
their re-embedment in the artiļ¬cial conceptual landscape of the nation-state. In the
case of Japan, however, the feudal system had to be transformed to a nation-state
in a very short period. As touched upon above, the process was engineered to be
short by introducing the constitutive elements of modernity as a module from the
then advanced modern nation-states of Europe and the United States (Nishikawa
1995, 25ā€“30). However, the transformation of the way the people perceived their
lifeā€“world and lived in and constituted it was a tough undertaking. The necessary
institutional/material base upon which the people were transformed into citizens
could be founded in a relatively short period of time as long as sufļ¬cient invest-
ment was possible. In fact, the improvement of the means of transportation in the
form of the foundation of the railway (from 1872 on, only four years after the Meiji
restoration), the introduction of the Gregorian calendar (1873) and the foundation
Archaeology, Society and Identity 62


of national holidays, the foundation of compulsory education/schooling (1873) and
so on, were quickly accomplished, and they contributed to the homogenisation of
space, time, and the body within the domain of the state of Japan (Nishikawa 1995,
31ā€“38). However, they had to be complemented by the technology of systematically
and rapidly homogenising the mentality/psyche of the people inhabiting the domain.
The concept of the ā€˜national bodyā€™ was invented for this purpose.
Let us begin by distinguishing the distinct characteristics of the ā€˜national bodyā€™
from other variants of the ā€˜nationā€™. As a conceptual unit, the ā€˜national bodyā€™ was
embodied by the emperor. The status of the emperor in the newly founded consti-
tution (the so-called ā€˜Meiji constitutionā€™) was deļ¬ned and constrained by the con-
stitution, but in fact it was that of an absolute sovereign: the emperor had the right
and obligation to make the ļ¬nal decision on every matter concerning the running
of the country. The executive, the parliament, the judiciary, and the military were
entrusted not to the people but to the emperor.3 The people were assured by the
emperor of the proper running of the country and in return had to be ever thankful,
to respect, and obey the emperor. Here, again, we can recognise the working of the
paradox and circularity characterising modernity in general and the nation-state in
particular, mentioned in Chapter 1: the embodiment of state power embodied power
based upon respect and voluntary obedience by the nation; and the nation respected
and voluntarily obeyed this embodiment of state power because without him no one
could embody state power and run the nation. The paradox had to be de-paradoxised,
and a device for the de-paradoxisation had to be invented.
Those who were incorporated in the ā€˜national bodyā€™ were made to perceive them-
selves as directly related/connected to the emperor. The relationship was often por-
trayed as that of father and child. The disembedding of people from the localised
values/norms and the de-paradoxisation of the paradox of the relationship between
the emperor and the subject were achieved in one go by the creation of this
imaginary personal relationship/ļ¬ctive kinship: the people became disembedded,
hence independent individuals voluntarily fulļ¬lled their responsibility to the country
through becoming individual ā€˜childrenā€™ of the emperor, rather than through becom-
ing autonomous citizens. At the same time, situating the emperor in the position of
father of the nation made the circular, symmetrical relationship between the emperor
and the nation asymmetrical and solved the problem of circularity and paradox. In
other words, the individual was re-embedded in this imagined community, portrayed
as functioning as a body, in which they were organically united as children of the great
father. This was indeed a smart conceptual machine which disembedded people
from the conceptual landscape of small local agrarian communities and at the same

3 There is an ongoing debate concerning the character of the power and authority provided by the
Meiji constitution to the emperor and that actually executed by the emperor. A signiļ¬cant issue is the
relationship between the emperor and the executive, the emperor and his ministers to be exact. Whether
it was his ministers who executed absolute power by posing to help the emperor to execute his will or

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