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The Materiality of Individuality at Fort St. Joseph: An Eighteenth-Century Mission-Garrison-Trading Post Complex on the Edge of Empire

  • Michael Shakir Nassaney
  • José António Brandão
Chapter

Abstract

Anthropological archaeologists have long recognized that material remains can inform on various scales of human activity as well as the identities of the people who lived in the past (Brumfiel, 1992; Diaz-Andreu et al., 2005; Hodder, 1986; Marquardt, 1992; Wobst, 1977). Many conceive of the archaeological record as a multivalent text – both a product of and precedent for human action – that individuals as members of groups use to create, reproduce, and transform their social relations. This perspective marks a shift in focus from culture to society and its constituent parts (Hodder, 2004:23–29). Early acknowledgement of the multidimensionality of artifacts based on their technomic, sociotechnic, and ideotechnic functions by processual archaeologists came in tandem with the recognition that social groups are not homogeneous cultural entities but consist of individuals with specific interests based on their age, status, gender, ethnicity, and a multitude of intersections among these axes (Binford, 1962, 1965). Yet the dominance of systems theory thinking deflected attention away from the individual as the locus of analysis and thwarted methodological attempts to illuminate social identity (but see Hill and Gunn, 1977). More recent concern with the implications of social diversity has led investigators of the past to probe the archaeological record with full awareness that it embodies the dreams, aspirations, motivations, perceptions, and realities of individual agents whose actions were admittedly constrained by structures they often took for granted (Brumfiel, 1992; Dobres and Robb, 2000).

Keywords

Social Identity Personal Identity Material Culture Archaeological Record Material World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Shakir Nassaney
    • 1
  • José António Brandão
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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