Animate landscapes and the transference of authority: resistance to hierarchy among hunter-gatherers of the Eastern Woodlands
Author(s): Matthew Sanger
Traditional conceptions of power, hierarchy, and inequity focus on the relations between and among human communities. To a certain extent, objects and places are considered important aspects of human relations, but they are largely framed as inanimate tools wielded by human actors. This prevalent view is threatened by a rich body of research among non-Western societies that shows non-human things, places, and animals are often considered to be powerful beings imbued with agency and efficacy. Drawing from this research, this paper investigates the societal structure of hunter-gatherer groups who inhabited the Southeastern American coastline during the Late Archaic (5000-3000 B.P.). Several of these groups had all of the components thought to lead to social inequality, including sedentism, amassed resources, and long-distance trade, yet there is no evidence of entrenched status differentiation. Considering the likelihood that non-human actors were important members of this past community, it is suggested that certain aspects of emergent elitism, including ownership over material goods, were transferred out of human hands and instead emplaced within particular places on the landscape thereby reducing the threat of intra-human dominance and inequity.
SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
- Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015) •
- Anarchy and Archaeology: Contesting Hierarchy, Power, and Authority in the Past and Today
Cite this Record
Animate landscapes and the transference of authority: resistance to hierarchy among hunter-gatherers of the Eastern Woodlands. Matthew Sanger. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395073)
min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;