Abstract

How did people create, sustain or undermine particular notions of identity in the past and how was agency caught up in this? In this dissertation I will deal with this question in relation to two particular Early Neolithic sites, the causewayed enclosures of Windmill Hill and Etton. I will argue that any attempt to understand identity in the past must reject modern essentialist notions of gender, personhood and agency, and instead recognise that these factors were produced through contextualised performative practice. It is particularly important to move away from essentialist notions of agency that have dominated much of archaeology in the last ten years so that this powerful analytical concept can continue to be of use to us.

Having outlined the background to the study, both theoretically and in terms of the relevant period, this dissertation will offer a thematical study of identity at both enclosures. This will permit easy comparisons of identity at each site and demonstrate how close analysis of deposits can begin to allow us to access performative practice in the past. Different narratives will be offered in relation to age, gender and personhood that will allow alternative vibrant versions of the past to emerge. This will prevent modern political inequalities being thrust back unwarranted in time and thereby legitimated today.