The Archaeology of Social Boundaries

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Overview

Mapping the boundaries between ancient societies through studies of "ethnicity," migration, or economic systems is of perennial interest to archaeologists, who typically have taken two divergent approaches. North American archaeologists have studies formal variation in the style of finished products, while the French tradition, exploring links between cognition and technical choice, has focused on how variation occurs during the manufacturing process.

Fourteen contributors examine an array of media — from ceramics and personal ornaments to architecture and site structure — in small-scale societies and apply methods from both sides of the Atlantic to explore how technical choices made in the creation of everyday objects can both reflect and define social boundaries. In chapters on pre-historic and historic societies that range from North America to Africa to Oceania, the authors suggest that variation in technical systems corresponds more closely than stylistic variation does to the boundaries between groups. They also address the question of whether modern concepts of ethnicity can be translated into archaeological terms.

The Archaeology of Social Boundaries demonstrates that the search for social boundaries in material culture patterning can benefit from the study of both technological and stylistic qualities. By uniting two disparate intellectual traditions, this book contributes to a growing archaeological theory of material culture.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560987796
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/1998
  • Series: Smithsonian Archaeol Inquiry Series
  • Pages: 362
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Miriam T. Stark is an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Hawai'i.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 1. Technical Choices and Social Boundaries in Material Culture Patterning: An Introduction Chapter 2 2. Social Boundaries, Technical Systems, and the Use of Space and Technology in the Kalahari Chapter 3 3. Material Culture, Social Fields, and Social Boundaries on the Sepik Coast of New Guinea Chapter 4 4. Social and Technical Identity in a Clay Crystal Ball Chapter 5 5. Scale, Style, and Cultural Variation; Technological Traditions in the Northern Mandara Mountains Chapter 6 6. The Cultural Origins of Technical Choice: Unraveling Algonquian and Iroquoian Ceramic Traditions in the Northeast Chapter 7 7. Technological Patterning and Social Boundaries: Ceramic Variability in Southern New England, A.D. 1000-1675 Chapter 8 8. Coursed Adobe Architecture, Style, and Social Boundaries in the American Southwest Chapter 9 9. Social Boundaries and Technical Choices in Tonto Basin Prehistory Chapter 10 10. Habitus, Techniques, Style: An Integrated Approach to the Social Understanding of Material Culture and Boundaries Chapter 11 11. Technology, Style, and Social Practices: Archaeological Approaches

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