Seeing Ethnicity?: Parsing Hybridity, Creolization and Ethnogenesis in The Archaeological Record

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Ethnicity has proven a durable concept in archaeologies of identity. As an analytic, it has transformed over time in response to currents in the discipline, as well as to broader sociopolitical contexts. "Seeing" ethnicity in the archaeological record was as critical to early archaeology’s concerns over Social Darwinism and colonialism as it is now in archaeologies of agency and resistance. Concepts such as creolization, hybridity, and ethnogenesis have become synonymous with historical archaeology.

Papers in this session will debate the enduring relevance of theories of ethnicity in archaeology at a site that has been so generative for the topic, the city of New Orleans. What do recent theoretical influences—postcolonial theory, critical race theory, ontology, amongst others— mean for theoretical and pragmatic approaches to an archaeology of ethnicity?

Papers from any region or specialization are welcome, and we especially encourage submissions from archaeologists working across (or against) the "prehistoric"/'historic" divide.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Abolition and the Rise of the Aku: Creating Ethnicity through Colonial Policy on the Gambia River (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Liza Gijanto.

    The Gambian capital of Banjul was founded as part of British abolition efforts in West Africa.  A planned urban center, its earliest residents included the Aku, or Liberated Africans resettled from Sierra Leone and captured slave vessels.  The Aku identity formed over several decades in The Gambia largely through self-identification as the ‘other’ African and British subjects in the 19th century.  In the early 20th century they were the Gambian elite and became the driving force behind the...

  • Categorizations of Identity in Settler Colonial Contexts: Unpacking Métis as Mixed in the Archaeological Record (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kisha Supernant.

    The Métis Nation of Canada has often been categorized as a mixed, hybrid ethnic group, based largely on racialized understandings of the early encounters between Indigenous women and European men. Métis scholars have begun to critique the racial basis for "Métis-as-mixed" and shift toward ways of identifying based on personhood and nationhood. In this paper, I discuss how settler colonial categories of hybridity have influenced past archaeological research on the Métis in Canada and explore the...

  • Exploring Age in the Chinese Diaspora (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emily Dale.

    While the archaeology of the Chinese diaspora has grown and expanded to incorporate numerous realms of study, most work has continued to focus on ethnicity as the key marker of Chinese identity, culture, and artifacts. More recently, archaeologists have explored the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity and class and ethnicity at Chinese sites. Age, however, is underexplored throughout archaeology in general, and completely unaddressed in archaeological research into the Chinese diaspora....

  • Getting to Know Your Neighbours: Critically Thinking Through an 19th Cenutry Irish Family in Ontario (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Beaudoin.

    In exploring ethnicities in North America, groups are often contrasted against a homogenized patterning that can often be read as the white Euro-Canadian colonizer. While this framing is effective for demonstrating while specific groups may differ from the predominant pattern, it also risks creating a ‘straw-dog’ argument that artificially creates a homogenized pattern where non exist. This paper shows that the white Euro-Canadian colonizer can be explored to demonstrate nuanced ethnic...

  • Haida Perspectives On Authenticity And Ethnicity In Mid-Nineteenth Century Argillite Carving (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kaitlin L. McCormick.

    Argillite carving is an art tradition exclusive to the Haida, an Indigenous people and First Nation whose homeland is the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, off the Northwest Coast of North America. Since 1800, Haida artists have quarried and carved argillite, a black, carbonaceous shale, and sold these works to non-Haidas. Reconceptualized through the centuries as souvenirs, curiosities, scientific specimens and art, this paper considers argillite’s history and meanings from the perspective of the...

  • The Politics of Pots: Becoming New Communities in the Historic Northern Rio Grande (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Valerie Bondura.

    In contemporary New Mexico, the tripartite division of presumed "Anglo", "Indian", and "Hispano" ethnic communities is naturalized in scholarship and in everyday life, but projecting this division into the past elides diverse historical realities. Pueblo, Apache, and vecino notions of community and landscape stand in contrast to the American imaginaries that underpin some historical anthropology and archaeology in the Southwest. This paper considers the archaeological interpretation of...

  • Technological Knowledge And Migrations Of Ancestral Pueblo Communities Of Practice In The Northern Rio Grande Of New Mexico (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark R Agostini.

    This paper seeks to evaluate how successive migrations of ancestral Pueblo people from pre-hispanic villages (AD 1250 – 1400) on the Pajarito Plateau of New Mexico restructured potter communities of practice and community identities as ethnic groups joined their Tewa-speaking relatives at the earliest historic period Rio Grande settlements. Oral histories from descendant communities dating to the 19th and early 20th centuries recount how remaining members of these villages resettled to the south...

  • Tracing Communities and Mapping Exchange Networks of the Great Lakes in the 17th Century (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Heather Walder. Alicia Hawkins.

    Identifying historically documented ethnic groups in the archaeological record benefits from pragmatic approaches to material culture studies and regional-scale analyses of interaction. Ongoing investigations of the dispersal and migration of Huron-Wendat and other Indigenous peoples of eastern North America as an outcome of colonialism in 17th century are applying archaeometric analysis methods to glass trade beads to trace population movements and exchange networks. Chemical elements calcium,...