Indigenous traces in colonial spaces: Archaeologies of ambiguity, origin, and practice

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Journal of Social Archaeology, ISSN: 1469-6053, Vol: 10, Issue: 1, Page: 28-58

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Silliman, Stephen W.
SAGE Publications
Social Sciences; Arts and Humanities; archaeology; colonialism; identity; labor; North America; practice theory; Native Americans; Indigenous Studies; Social and Cultural Anthropology; United States History
article description
This article reconsiders how archaeologists find Indigenous people, particularly Native Americans, in past colonial communities. Significant progress has been made in studying indigenous living areas associated with colonial communities but not in recovering evidence for (or even remembering) Native people laboring in distinctly colonial spaces. I propose that the reason for the lag lies in an incomplete perspective on material culture and space that denies their polyvalent and ambiguous, yet informative and manifestly real, nature. A new perspective can be forged with greater use of social theory pertaining to practice, space, and labor. Reconceptualizing material culture and space in colonial contexts requires that archaeologists acknowledge the role of labor relations in structuring material and spatial practices and not conflate origins of artifacts and spaces with other possible social meanings derived from practice. This article examines these two dimensions with three North American cases from New England, Florida, and California. © 2010 The Author.