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Smoke and Spirit: Exploring Bodily and Sensual Concerns at Early Harvard College

Abstract

Identity, as a central concept in contemporary historical archaeology theory, has been enlivened by recent scholarship that is increasingly mindful of the bodily experience. While some scholars espouse a focus on embodiment, others explore further sensory dimensions of historical identities embodied in human and material interactions. Using such concepts as emotion, memory, sensuality, and nostalgia, they investigate the sensing body in the material world through sound, smell, touch, sexuality, and emotion. The intent in focusing on sensual concerns is not to set sensuality against materiality, but rather to seek greater balance between the exploration of the material world and bodily experience and expression. In this article, I discuss a sensual approach to the archaeology of colonial New England by focusing on small finds from 17th- and 18th-century Harvard College that are related to bodily care for physical and spiritual health.

Resumen

La identidad, como concepto central en la teoría de la arqueología histórica contemporánea, ha cobrado nueva vida por estudios recientes que son cada vez más conscientes de la experiencia corporal. Mientras que algunos académicos defienden un enfoque en la encarnación, otros exploran más dimensiones sensoriales de las identidades históricas encarnadas en las interacciones humanas y materiales. Utilizando conceptos como emoción, memoria, sensualidad y nostalgia, investigan el cuerpo sensible en el mundo material a través del sonido, el olfato, el tacto, la sexualidad y la emoción. La intención al centrarse en las preocupaciones sensuales no es de oponer la sensualidad a la materialidad, sino de buscar un mayor equilibrio entre la exploración del mundo material y la experiencia y expresión corporal. En este artículo, analizo un enfoque sensual de la arqueología de la Nueva Inglaterra colonial centrándome en pequeños hallazgos de la Universidad de Harvard de los siglos XVII y XVIII que están relacionados con el cuidado corporal para la salud física y espiritual.

Résumé

L'identité en tant que concept central au sein de la théorie de l'archéologie historique contemporaine, a été réactivé grâce à la recherche récente qui est de plus en plus attentive à l'expérience du corps. Alors que certains chercheurs prennent pour priorité l'incarnation, d'autres explorent les dimensions sensorielles supplémentaires des identités historiques incarnées dans les interactions humaines et matérielles. S'appuyant sur des concepts tels que l'émotion, la mémoire, la sensualité et la nostalgie, ils étudient le corps et ses sensations dans le monde matériel par le biais du son, de l'odorat, du toucher, de la sexualité et de l'émotion. Le dessein axé sur les préoccupations sensuelles n'a pas vocation à opposer la sensualité à la matérialité, mais plutôt à rechercher un plus grand équilibre entre l'exploration du monde matériel et l'expérience et l'expression du corps. Je discute dans cet article d'une approche sensuelle de l'archéologie de la Nouvelle Angleterre coloniale axée sur de petits artéfacts datant des 17ème et 18ème siècle provenant du Harvard College et qui sont liés aux soins du corps pour la santé physique et spirituelle.

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Loren, D.D. Smoke and Spirit: Exploring Bodily and Sensual Concerns at Early Harvard College. Hist Arch 56, 217–226 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41636-022-00344-5

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Keywords

  • embodiment
  • materiality
  • synesthesia
  • puritan
  • tobacco