Household Chores and Household Choices: Theorizing the Domestic Sphere in Historical Archaeology

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Presents a variety of archaeological case studies on daily life in a wide range of locations and circumstances.

Because archaeology seeks to understand past societies, the concepts of "home," "house," and "household" are important. Yet they can be the most elusive of ideas. Are they the space occupied by a nuclear family or by an extended one? Is it a built structure or the sum of its contents? Is it a shelter against the elements, a gendered space, or an ephemeral place tied to emotion? We somehow believe that the household is a basic unit of culture but have failed to develop a theory for understanding the diversity of households in the historic (and prehistoric) periods.

In an effort to clarify these questions, this volume examines a broad range of households—a Spanish colonial rancho along the Rio Grande, Andrew Jackson's Hermitage in Tennessee, plantations in South Carolina and the Bahamas, a Colorado coal camp, a frontier Arkansas farm, a Freedman's Town eventually swallowed by Dallas, and plantations across the South—to define and theorize domestic space. The essays devolve from many disciplines, but all approach households from an archaeological perspective, looking at landscape analysis, excavations, reanalyzed collections, or archival records. Together, the essays present a body of knowledge that takes the identification, analysis, and interpretation of households far beyond current conceptions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This collection of papers does a fine job of illustrating the shortfalls of projecting normative views of household structure, organization, composition, and spatiality into the past."—Laurie Wilkie, University of California-Berkeley
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817313951
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kerri S. Barile is a principal investigator with SWCA Environmental Consultants in Austin, Texas, and a Ph.D. candidate at UT-Austin.  

Jamie C. Brandon is Visiting Instructor with the University of Arkansas and an archaeologist with the Arkansas Archeological Survey. 

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction : household chores; or, the chore of defining the household 1
2 Analysis of household and family at a Spanish colonial Rancho along the Rio Grande 15
3 A space of our own : redefining the enslaved household at Andrew Jackson's hermitage plantation 33
4 Separate kitchens and intimate archaeology : constructing urban slavery on the Antebellum cotton frontier in Washington, Arkansas 51
5 "Living symbols of their lifelong struggles" : in search of the home and household in the heart of Freedman's town, Dallas, Texas 75
6 Finding the space between spatial boundaries and social dynamics : the archaeology of nested households 109
7 Hegemony within the household; the perspective from a South Carolina plantation 121
8 A historic pay-for-housework community household : the Cambridge Cooperative Housekeeping Society 138
9 Fictive kin in the mountains : the paternalistic metaphor and households in a California logging camp 159
10 The ethnohistory and archaeology of Nuevo Santander Rancho households 179
11 Reconstructing domesticity and segregating households : the intersections of gender and race in the Postbellum South 197
12 Working-class households as sites of social change 210
13 What difference does feminist theory make in researching households? A commentary 235
14 Doing the housework : new approaches to the archaeology of households 254
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