1st Edition

Reconceptualizing the Archaeology of Southern India Beyond Periodization and Toward a Politics of Practice

By Peter Johansen, Andrew M. Bauer Copyright 2025
    232 Pages 12 Color & 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents a paradigm shift in the long-term study of South India’s deep history, one that refuses the disciplinary constraints of history and prehistory, and interrogates the archaeological and textual records of the Deccan to disrupt its conventional archaeological periodizations, which have tended to reify and dehistoricize social and cultural differences.

    This book draws on over 20 years of original archaeological research from the southern Deccan region of India to critically reappraise the historiography that has framed its deep history. This book fundamentally questions conventional archaeological paradigms, which, rooted in early colonial scholarship, have structured interpretations of deep time with curiously ahistorical narratives of the past. It offers a more nuanced assessment of change and continuity across a diversity of cultural, social, and political practices through the novel application of theoretical framings to archaeological and historical data, including political ecology, techno-politics, resource materialities, and landscape production. It will be appropriate as a text in a range of graduate and undergraduate classes on archaeological method and theory and South Asian studies, where it will be a paradigm disrupting book for the archaeology and history of the region.

    This book will interest an interdisciplinary audience of graduate and undergraduate students and professional academics, primarily in the fields of archaeology, history, and South Asian studies. Its theoretical interventions will also be of interest to those interested in the anthropology and the archaeology of politics, chronology, historicity and historiography, and materiality and landscape archaeology.

    Introduction: Reconceptualizing the Archaeology of the Deccan: From Periodization to Practice; 1. Culture History, Relative Chronology, and the Invention of ‘Prehistory’ on the Deccan: Historizing and Reconceptualizing the Production of South India’s Past; 2. The Maski Archaeological Research Project and the Sociality of Settlement Landscapes; 3. Mortuary Differences and the Making of a Commemorative Politics in the Precolonial South Deccan; 4. The Techno-Politics of Crafting: Ceramics, Lithics and Iron in the Long-Term; 5. The Political Ecology of Agro-Pastoral Land Use Over the Long-Term; 6. Archaeology and the Politics of Practice


    Peter Johansen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. His research and teaching interests focus on issues of politics, social distinctions and inequalities, landscape production, materiality, metallurgical production, ritual, and representational practices, particularly in South India’s ancient and medieval pasts. He is codirector of the Maski Archaeological Research Project, an ongoing multidisciplinary archaeological field project in South India. He is also interested in the contemporary politics of Indigenous heritage sovereignty in Canada.

    Andrew M. Bauer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University and the current Director of the Stanford Archaeology Center. His research and teaching interests intersect archaeological method and theory and environmental anthropology, with particular emphasis on South India, where he codirects the Maski Archaeological Research Project. He is also interested in the intersections of landscape histories, spatial production, and modern framings of nature as they relate to the politics of conservation and climate change.