Table of Contents
Journal of Archaeology
Volume 2013, Article ID 540912, 15 pages
Review Article

Nonlinear Systems Theory, Feminism, and Postprocessualism

1Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
2Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309, USA

Received 31 May 2013; Accepted 15 September 2013

Academic Editor: Yue-Xing Feng

Copyright © 2013 Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper explores the insights that nonlinear systems theory can contribute to archaeological theory and method. Dynamical nonlinear systems theory, chaos theory, and complexity theory are first defined, and their interrelationships are discussed. Then chaotic processes are described and exemplified in processes relevant to archaeology. Some applications of nonlinear systems theory in archaeology are briefly reviewed. Next, it is argued that culture is a nonlinear system. Finally, an exploration of similarities, differences, and relationships between nonlinear systems theory, feminist theory, and postprocessual archaeology leads to suggestions for expansions and synergies among these theories.