In this volume of essays, historical archaeologists and scholars from a variety of other fields explore creative approaches to material culture as a form of cultural expression. The essays, derived from papers first presented at the 1991 Winterthur Conference, emphasize material culture's communicative qualities; its roles in social performance, the construction of identity, and the mediation of interaction; and its interpretive limitations. A special concern with contexts in their myriad forms resonates throughout the volume. The contributors not only describe time and place but they seek the intimate social and symbolic details of human agency in all their diversity.
The essays reveal how dynamic archaeological thinking can appeal to a broader audience. The first section, "Construction of Context: Negotiating Consumer Culture", groups six essays that foreground people and their choices in diverse consumer contexts. The authors examine the ways that material culture illuminates the cultural dialogues between New England's native peoples and European traders, urbane Virginians and their "country cousins", Southern slaves and their owners, agrarian potters and industrial capitalists, and nineteenth-century Americans and the brokers of consumer culture.
In the second section, "'In the Active Voice': Remaking the American Landscape", the attention shifts from people to the land they inhabited and changed. Through close reading of multiple data sources at many scales, from microscopic pollen grains to urban plans, the authors of these four essays trace the remaking of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American farms and cities.
In the third section, "Working toward Meaning: The Scopeof Historical Archaeology", the authors work outward from the preceding studies, directly engaging the reader in the process of reinventing historical archaeology. Together with the other contributions to this volume, these three concluding essays demonstrate the important place of historical archaeology in the interdisciplinary arena of material culture studies.
|Publisher:||Winterthur, Henry Francis duPont Museum, Inc., The|