Staying Out of Small, Square Holes: The Contributions of Stephen Kowalewski to the Understanding of Human Societies at Regional and Global Scales

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

Stephen A. Kowalewski is best known for his work in Mesoamerica, especially the full-coverage regional surveys in the Valley of Oaxaca and the Mixteca Alta that have increased our understanding of Zapotec and Mixtec societies. However, his broadly comparative research has advanced understanding of the long-term and diachronic trajectories of multiple societies across the world. In this session we invite fellow archaeologists to gather, reflect upon, and discuss the great intellectual and personal influence that Steve and his work have had on our lives, our work, and our continuous attempts to gain a large scale, “big picture” understanding of the societies and the social phenomena we investigate. The invited papers in this session showcase current research taking place in various world regions with a special emphasis on how Steve's wit and wisdom continue to guide and resonate in our research, our development, and our professional careers.

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  • Documents (11)

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Luis Barba.

    During field seasons 2008 – 2011 a large set of archaeological prospection techniques were applied in large areas surrounding present town of Coixtlahuaca, Oaxaca in a joint project carried on by University of Georgia and the National University of Mexico. This project attempted to put together the large experience of Kowalewski in archaeological survey in Oaxaca’s valleys and the experience of the Archaeological Prospection Laboratory using geophysical techniques in Mexico. These approaches are...

  • Athens-Oaxaca y puntos intermedios: Steve Kowalewski´s influence in local archaeologists. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nelly Robles Garcia.

    One of the major contributions of Dr. Kowalweski has been a dual impact in the development of Oaxacan archaeologists, and his model of engagement with communities where he has studied. Undoubtedly, Steve has been an example to follow in academia, his Valley of Oaxaca survey expanded on Ignacio Bernal´s pioneer study. He and his associates used the full-coverage strategy for the central valleys and replicated it in the Mixteca Alta. Steve has always been open to include Mexican archaeologists in...

  • Cerro Jazmin and its changing regional context: building upon regional survey data (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Laura Stiver-Walsh. Veronica Perez Rodriguez. Antonio Martínez Tuñón.

    Current work at the Mixtec urban site of Cerro Jazmín stems from a regional survey of the Central Mixteca Alta led by Stephen Kowalewski. As we refine Cerro Jazmin’s chronology and know more about its history of occupation, we are building upon and sometimes correcting initial understandings of the site gained from that regional survey. We are able to contextualize the new information in relation to the entire Nochixtlan Valley and nearby areas thanks to the work and perspective offered by...

  • Cumulative Survey: Defining Coalescent Communities in the American Southwest (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Wilcox.

    The fundamental shift from artifacts to settlements as the basic units of archaeological inquiry required a rethinking of methodologies. Now the basic questions were about measuring interactions of people deployed differentially on cultural landscapes. At a more abstract level it required adoption of the logic of relations in preference to the typological logic of entities and their qualities. If settlements are portrayed as variously colored dots on a map, interactions can be expressed as what...

  • Early Village Societies in the American South and Beyond (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Pluckhahn. Victor Thompson.

    From his early work on social evolution in Mesoamerica to his more recent macrohistory of coalescent societies, Steve Kowalewski has epitomized the big picture approach to anthropological archaeology. Taking a cue from the latter body of work, as well as the recent overview of the topic by Bandy and Fox, we work toward a macrohistory of early village societies. Building from recent work at the Crystal River site (8CI1) on Florida’s west central Gulf Coast, we look to commonalities in early...

  • I don´t do mountains: regional survey in the Tequila valleys of Jalisco (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Verenice Heredia Espinoza.

    Steve Kowalewski has created the largest full-coverage survey block in the entire world. He has championed survey because of the information it provides on regional and macro-regional processes. This can only be done by walking transect after transect covering large amounts of land. There is neither magic nor trick; it only takes hard work. Steve´s leadership and teachings on survey methods have benefited even the most peripheral areas of Mesoamerica. Based on the methods I learned from Steve, I...

  • The landscape and regional integration of the Guan River Valley in the Eastern Zhou Period (770-221 B.C) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Yanxi Wang.

    The regional full-coverage survey at the Guan River Valley reveals a highly integrated, hierarchical and structured settlement system in the first millennium B.C. This settlement system centered on a walled city on the broad alluvial plain of the middle stream. However, a supra-settlement, which was more than twice as large as the city, located at the mountainous area more than 25 km to the upper stream. The nature of this supra-settlement and its relation to the middle stream settlement system...

  • Long-term data versus Contemporary Crisis: Anthropological Archaeology in the U.S. / Mexico Borderlands (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Chamblee.

    Steve Kowalewski’s work demonstrates the importance of long-term data and provides methods for synthesizing archaeological and other social science data to address problems of contemporary concern. This paper takes cues from that research and combines it with the social conscience for which Steve is known and respected. Instead of treating the deaths of undocumented border crossers in isolation, this phenomenon is contextualized by the long-term history of the U.S. Mexico Borderlands as a...

  • Making Communities Work: Organizational Diversity in the Eastern Woodlands of North America (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Birch.

    Stephen Kowalewski has advanced a number of conceptual frameworks for the comparative study of organizational complexity. His multiscalar, cross-cultural approach permits the recognition of broad patterns while incorporating meaningful variation. In a 2013 paper, Steve explores the "work" involved in the formation of large, co-residential communities. He suggests that we might productively focus on the labor process, as community members purposefully redirected people’s time, energy, and...

  • Stephen Kowalewski, su vida y obra: a life of regional survey and looking at the big picture (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Verenice Heredia Espinoza. Thomas Pluckhahn. Veronica Perez Rodriguez.

    In this opening paper for the session in honor of Stephen Kowalewski we talk about Steve’s life and background, his experience in Southwestern and Mesoamerican archaeology, and about a life of teaching and mentoring in the classroom and in the field. We discuss Stephen Kowalewski’s work in archaeology and the rich regional datasets that we now enjoy as a result of his teachings and labors. This presentation also reflects on the theoretical and methodological approaches that Steve has employed...

  • The view from one thousand houses: a macro-regional approach to household archaeology in the Southeastern United States: (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Benjamin Steere.

    In this paper I reflect on Steve Kowalewski’s influence on my research on houses and households in the native Southeast. In the early days of my graduate training, Steve encouraged me to move away from a single-site focus and instead think about household archaeology as a broadly comparative anthropological enterprise undertaken at a macro-regional scale. It was a good idea. To meet Steve’s challenge, I constructed a database that catalogs the architectural features of 1258 structures from 65...