Connectivity and Communities of Practice in Lowland South America

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

The concepts of "communities and constellations of practice" are employed in archaeology to engage with the connectivity between material culture, knowledge, agency, structuration, and identity. These frameworks emphasize the socially situated and culturally transmitted nature of how to do and make, and seek to trace their empirical outcomes at different spatio-temporal scales. Archaeologists in Amazonia and circum-Amazonia have long sought to explain the occurrence of large-scale and persistent phenomena, while simultaneously accounting for the cultural-linguistic-ethnic diversity apparent across the regions in which they occur. In this context, how can understanding shared notions of practical action aid the study of generative processes underlying the material record?

We propose that a crucial connection between historically- and contextually-specific processes (e.g., innovation, emulation, syncretism) and long-term trajectories (tradition, orthodoxy) within and between communities may be forged by considering practices and their circumstances of transmission. Moreover, identifying vectors of transmission (social networks, geography) can help suggest how they modified, amplified, or constrained historical outcomes. This session aims to unite scholars in discussion under this broad theme, and as a lens through which to view both variation and homogeneity. Challenges to the definition of the community, whether real, imagined, or archaeological, are also welcome.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • Ceramic variability and social interaction in the Middle Orinoco: On multi ethnic communities and ceramic traditions in the Late occupation period (500-1500 AD) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Natalia Lozada Mendieta.

    The Átures Rapids in the Middle Orinoco region are mentioned in the historical sources as a key trading center linking the Western Llanos of the Orinoco and the Guyana, where people, goods and ideas were exchanged. A recent study in Picure Island, located in the rapids, present a variety of ceramic temper wares, beads and quartz crystals associated in stratigraphically excavated contexts. The ceramic sherds recovered in Picure are closely related to other archaeological sites in the Middle...

  • Communities of practice and variability/standardization of the ceramic assemblages: the indigenous people Asurini do Xingu (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Fabiola Silva.

    I intend to present some results of my ethnoarchaeological research (1996-2016) on the ceramic technology of the Asurini do Xingu, an Amazonian indigenous people (Tupi-Guarani linguistic family) who lives on the banks of the Xingu River - Pará, Brazil. Based on collected data, I will demonstrate the relationship between the social organization of ceramic production and the standardization/variability of these artifacts over time. I will show how in Asurini context, teaching-learning framework,...

  • Conceptual and Technical Connectivity in Indigenous South American Rock Art Traditions (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Phil C. Riris.

    Archaeologists have long sought to explain the distribution of rock art traditions across Amazonia and circum-Amazonia with reference to stylistic variability in the iconography, often as a proxy for exploring shared concepts of symbolic representation, mediated through local cultural norms. Where it has been possible, cross-referencing this kind of data with the ethnographic and archaeological records has engendered valuable new interpretations of indigenous symbolic repertoires in a variety of...

  • Connectivity beyond the floodplains: the case of the upper Tapajós (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bruna Rocha. Vinicius Oliveira.

    The first millennium AD saw an increase in population density throughout much of Amazonia; this is testified by an increase in the number and size of coeval archaeological sites, many of which include anthropogenic dark earths, widely considered as proxies for intensive and continuous human habitation and alteration of the environment. The Terra Preta do Mangabal and Sawre Muybu sites were village settlements occupied from c.700AD and c.900AD respectively, located along the rapids of the upper...

  • Daily Practices and the Creation of Cultural Landscapes in Amazonia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Morgan Schmidt. Anne Rapp Py-Daniel. Marcos Pereira Magalhães. Helena Lima. Vera Guapindaia.

    Short-term, small-scale interactions between humans and the environment may result in profound transformations of that environment over time. Recent archaeological research in Amazonia has revealed the extent that daily practices, such as refuse disposal or cultivation, have modified the soil in the vicinity of ancient and modern settlements. The fertile anthropic soil known as terra preta, formed mainly through the discard of refuse around habitation areas, is an example of how quotidian...

  • From the first to the last terras pretas: changes in cultural behaviour and terra preta formation in the Upper Madeira river, SW Amazonia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Watling. Eduardo Góes Neves. Guilherme Mongeló. Thiago Kater.

    Terras pretas (TPs) are arguably the most visible and widespread artefacts of pre-Colonial occupations in Amazonia. Accumulated as the result of waste management practices by at least partly-sedentary populations, they are seen to mark the beginnings of landscape domestication and more agricultural-based societies starting ca. 3000 BP. On the bluffs of the Upper Madeira river, exceptionally early TP deposits were found dating more than 3000 years before TP sites in the rest of the basin. While...

  • Inequality and Taskscape in a Precolumbian Agricultural Landscape (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Walker.

    Raised fields and other earthworks, as parts of archaeological landscapes, can be theorized through Ingold’s related concepts of taskscape and lines. In the Bolivian Amazon, such earthworks are the physical remains of group or community activities in the precolumbian past. As such, they are both the products of community tasks, and infrastructure, or resources that in turn afford other community tasks. In conjunction with archaeological survey and excavation, mapping of raised fields and other...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sanna-Kaisa Saunaluoma.

    The archaeology of Acre has been widely drawing the attention of the scientific community due to the discovery of an ancient civilization building geometric earthworks labeled "geoglyphs". In the course of field surveys realized at the geoglyph sites other types of archaeological sites were documented as well, including sites consisting of small artificial earthen mounds arranged in a circular form. At first, the mound sites were also classified as geoglyphs, but through the recent fieldwork it...

  • Satisfying needs and negotiating freedom in colonial Spanish American cities (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Monika Therrien.

    Unlike archaeological studies that seek to focus on the relations of power and elites, that by means of physical violence and symbolic exerted their domination over other groups assumed to be passive, an approach from practice theories and spaces of contact in which daily practices took place is proposed. It is in these spaces and through everyday activities that curiosity, knowledge and consent made it possible for the majority to survive under the colonial regime, without this implying an...

  • Understanding the dispersion of ceramic styles in the lower Amazon: what is Koriabo? (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cristiana Barreto. Helena Lima.

    Archaeologists working in the lower Amazon have been identifying a particular ceramic style with a vast regional distribution, including the Caribbean, the Guyanas, the Amazon estuary and, more recently, the lower Amazon floodplain. This paper will discuss the distribution and varibility of this style in the lower Amazon, its correlation with Carib speaking groups, and the possible contexts, processes and practices that generated such dispersion.

  • When Traditions Are Manufactured, Used and Broken: examples from Tupian contexts in Amazonia. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Fernando Ozorio De Almeida.

    One of the most insightful contributions recently put forward by Anthropology and Ethnoarchaeology is related to the concept of the "communities of practice". It is naturally connected to issues such as the relation between language and material culture, transmission, identity, persistence, structure as well as the limits of socially permitted restructuring of practices, and even the possible contingencies which might cause deep change and break the structure and, therefore, Tradition. The...