Replications: Archaeology, Art History, Psychoanalysis


The twelve interdisciplinary essays collected here explore what Whitney Davis calls "replication" in archaeology, art history, and psychoanalysis—the sequential production of similar artifacts or images substitutable for one another in specific contexts of use. Davis suggests that while archaeology deals with the "physics" of replication (its material conditions and constraints), psychoanalysis deals with the "psychics" of replication (its mental conditions and constraints).

Because art history is equally interested in the material properties and in the personal and cultural meaning of artifacts and images, it can mediate the interests of archaeology and psychoanalysis. Thus Replications explores not only the differences between but also the common ground shared by archaeology, art history, and psychoanalysis—focusing, for example, on their mutual interest in the "style" of artifacts or image making, their need to treat the "nonintentional" or "nonmeaningful" element in production, and their models of the subjective and social transmission of replications in the life history of persons and communities.

Replications is an original contribution to an emerging field of study in domains as diverse as philosophy, cognitive science, connoisseurship, and cultural studies—the intersection of the material and the meaningful in the human production of artifacts. Davis develops formal models for and theories about this relationship, exploring the ideas of a number of philosophers, historians, and critics and presenting his own distinctive conceptual analysis.

Publication date: 
November 21, 1996
Publication type: