- The Affect of Crafting: Third Millennium BCE Copper Arrowheads from Ganeshwar, Rajasthan by Uzma Z. Rizvi
Uzma Rizvi’s book provides a critical new perspective on an important regional archaeological landscape that has largely been marginalized as a somewhat enigmatic frontier backwater of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). Northeastern Rajasthan during the [End Page 481] third millennium b.c.e. was a significant place of IVC resource extraction (copper), yet one that developed neither the well-known cultural nor sociopolitical trappings of its neighbor’s supra-regional, urban-rural “civilization.” Indeed, while much analytical effort over the past three decades has gone into understanding the role of craft production in the social and political organization of the IVC, other important regional loci of local craft production and community beyond the IVC have seen far less attention. Rizvi’s study of northeastern Rajasthan’s Ganeshwar-Jodhpura Cultural Complex (GJCC) recenters the analytic lens squarely onto this less well-understood regional settlement land-scape of copper-crafting communities.
In this book, Rizvi argues that the GJCC must be viewed in its own terms as a politically and economically autonomous region of “complex” communities whose sociocultural identity and character were coproduced through their relationships with a local distribution of copper minerals and the transformative practices through which copper was crafted into unique forms and styles of objects. In addressing this argument, Rizvi makes a second and arguably more considerable theoretical intervention. By entwining multiple threads of social theory—most notably that of the new materialisms—she presents us with an understanding of how, through the practice of crafting, human bodies, metallic minerals, and places co-construct an affect of belonging that is simultaneously social and cultural and, critically, is dynamically tethered to a particular time and space. At the scale of archaeological analysis presented in this study (i.e., regions, regional settlement clusters, regional artifact types), this new ontological framing provides a novel and intriguing explanation for regionalscale distributional variation in artifact and site types. This framing transcends the more frequently deployed explanatory narratives of the culture-history approach to South Asia’s archaeological record, while engaging similar datasets.
The book is separated into two parts. The first consists of a set of four chapters that outline Rizvi’s argument, theoretical intervention, and interpretations of the GJCC based on her assessment of the published data that precede her study and the results of her archaeological survey and typological analyses of the corpus of copper artifacts recovered from 1978–1979 excavations at Ganeshwar. The second part of the book is a photographic catalog of the Ganeshwar copper artifacts, the majority of which are small copper arrowheads. This is followed by two tabular appendices. The first is a complete list of GJCC sites, provenienced by state and district with geocoordinates and site areas included for sites identified by the author’s pedestrian survey and a limited number of previously recorded sites. The second appendix consists of provenience and metric data for the Ganeshwar copper artifacts.
Chapter 1 serves as a general introduction to the GJCC and to Rizvi’s reframing of a theory of crafting, which she aptly characterizes as the “affect of crafting.” Research on the GJCC prior to Rizvi’s study took place largely during the 1970s and early 1980s. The interpretations of the GJCC that Rizvi challenges here have been difficult to evaluate given an absence of site reports and published datasets beyond short season summaries in Indian Archaeology Review and a handful of interpretive articles.1 Moreover, only two radiocarbon dates have been published from the entire archaeological complex. Rizvi’s reevaluation of the published data and the results of her own survey are mobilized to argue that the GJCC were socially and culturally independent complex communities sandwiched between the IVC and Ahar-Banas cultural regions. These GJCC communities maintained their cultural (and ostensibly political) autonomy through a unique set...