What’s in a Label? Archaeological Taxonomies and Social Processes Past and Present

Author(s): Ann Stahl

Year: 2015


The Banda area of west central Ghana is a quintessential example of what Igor Kopytoff (1987) long-ago dubbed the Internal African Frontier—an ‘interstitial’ region between ‘established societies’ that is home to a dynamic composition of people, languages and practice forged by newcomers and autochthones alike. In presumed contrast with their ‘established’ neighbors, frontier societies are ones in which processes of improvisation and the negotiation of social boundaries seem more apparent. While the concept of frontier societies has proved influential in African archaeology, it is one for which archaeology’s taxonomic arsenal of bounded cultures and phases is ill-equipped to deal. Drawing on long-term archaeological investigations of frontier processes in the Banda area, I explore the salience of analytical approaches aimed at discerning the fluidity of social boundaries for both archaeological taxonomy and how the past is mobilized in the present.

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Cite this Record

What’s in a Label? Archaeological Taxonomies and Social Processes Past and Present. Ann Stahl. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396725)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;