From Households to Communities: Bridging Scales in Search of Conflict, Coalescence, and Communitas

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Archaeological examinations of households and communities have increased dramatically over the past two decades. Many of these studies examine the ways in which people define themselves while simultaneously shaping the social relationships, physical spaces, and material objects that comprise their world. Despite the considerable insights such studies have generated, it is often difficult to bridge the scalar and theoretical differences between individual case studies focused at either household or community level. Contributions to this session seek to bridge these distinct scales of investigation through the examination of specific archaeological case studies that explicitly recognize that communities are not simply the byproducts of households pursuing their own autonomous strategies nor are households merely passive reflections of social, political, and economic relationships within the communities of which they are a part.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)

  • Andean Irrigation Communities: A Comparative Study of Household and Society in Ancient Peru (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patrick Ryan Williams.

    Households and community structures in ancient Peru were key to developing irrigation systems and reproducing a social order. Tensions between communities and within them are often written on the landscape in the form of water distribution structures and community placement. Household level strategies may also be evident in the material structure of the house and its belongings. I undertake a cross-temporal and cross-cultural study of household and community level interfaces around...

  • Discordant Relationships: Household and Community at Callar Creek, Belize (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Kurnick.

    From the Late Preclassic to the Late Classic period (400 BCE to 900 CE), the Mopan Valley of Belize was a complex political landscape and an arena of intense political competition. During this time, the Valley witnessed the sequential rise of three, closely-spaced, major centers – centers likely in direct competition with one another – as well as the establishment and abandonment of minor centers and settlement clusters. The Mopan Valley Archaeology Project recently completed excavations and...

  • Exploring Community Creation at the Mississippian site of Etowah (9Br1) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adam King.

    Etowah was the locus of a prehistoric community for 550 years. After it’s founding the site was abandoned and re-occupied twice, meaning Etowah’s communities were created three separate times. Periods of abandonment create points in the life of a community where it is possible to question and modify local tradition. Re-establishment after abandonment can lead to novel ways of casting identity, social relations, and history. Data collected at Etowah and the wider region reveal this process and...

  • Household to community, community to region: A multiscalar approach to identity and interaction at two fugitive slave villages in 19th-century Kenya (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lydia Wilson Marshall.

    In 19th-century coastal Kenya, runaway slaves were known as watoro. This paper uses an expanding analytical framework to investigate watoro identity and interaction at three scales. First, I use artifact concentrations and domestic spatial dynamics to illustrate the daily lifeways and material preferences of individual households in two watoro villages, Koromio and Makoroboi. I then compare multiple households within each watoro community in order to investigate how these households interacted...

  • More than a Matter of Scale: Exploring Relationships Between Households and Communities (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cameron Wesson.

    Increased use of remote sensing techniques in archaeology has afforded researchers unparalleled opportunities to examine the spatial dimensions of ancient settlements. At the same time, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in archaeological research directed toward the examination of households. Although both scales of inquiry are capable of producing meaningful archaeological insights, distinct theoretical perspectives have developed out of attempts to reconstruct past social relationships...

  • Predatory Commerce, Elite Competition: Economic Conflict and the Downfall of Elite Communitas in the port of Mtwapa, Kenya, 1600-1750 CE. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rahul Oka.

    The premise of this session is that "communities are not merely the byproducts of individual households pursuing their own productive strategies nor are households passive reflections of the larger communities of which they are a part." This paper focuses on Waungwana (elite) communitas at the Swahili port of Mtwapa, Kenya between 1600-1750 CE. Data from 10 elite wards is used to examine the effects of competition on both household and community. Analysis shows that the external predatory...

  • Scales of Identity and Scales of Analysis in western New Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matt Peeples.

    Archaeologists typically use the term "identity" to refer to the ways in which individuals define membership in larger social groups through direct interaction or the perception of similarities and differences with others. Such social groups can be defined at a variety of scales (e.g., family unit/household, community, ethnic group/culture, etc.) and most archaeological studies tend to focus at only one particular scale. Recent archaeological research across a broad range of social and political...

  • Seeking New Metaphors for Communities and Households in the Ancestral Pueblo Southwest (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gregson Schachner.

    Investigations of households and communities have long been strengths of archaeological research in the American Southwest. As the spatial breadth and temporal resolution of these studies has improved, the archaeological record has raised key challenges to our preconceptions of the scale, stability, and structure of Ancestral Pueblo communities and households. Newer models must reconcile evidence for the frequent movement of individuals and households with contrasting data attesting to long-term...

  • Urbanization and Ceramic Change: An Exploration of the Relationship (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anne Underhill.

    Previous studies about the production, distribution, and consumption of craft goods in complex societies emphasize social relations at the household, site, and regional scales. An often neglected component is the nature of economic organization within different neighborhoods of large settlements. This paper argues that we should attempt to understand neighborhoods as meaningful communities for inhabitants of urban centers. These smaller communities can have a major impact on the nature of social...

  • Where We Live: Houses, Households, Barrios, and Towns in Postclassic Oaxaca (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth Konwest.

    Greater La Amontonada, a cluster of Postclassic period sites in the Nejapa region of Oaxaca, Mexico, is an ideal location for investigating the ways in which people would have negotiated their roles as members of households, neighborhoods, and larger communities. Group members enact their relationships through everyday choices, habits, and routines that are materialized through daily action. The practices enacted in one community, the learning and doing, may be materialized differently than...