Introduction: Why Social Archaeology Matters

Author(s): Kristin De Lucia; Santiago Juarez

Year: 2016


Almost 25 years ago, Elizabeth Brumfiel (1992) argued that ecosystems approaches to archaeology hampered our understanding of social change by neglecting the internal dynamics, conflicts, and negotiations that arise from gender, class, and factional affiliations. Rather than adaptive systems, Brumfiel (1992:559) argued that "cultural systems are contingent and negotiated, the composite outcome of strategy, counterstrategy, and the unforeseen consequences of human action." Human agency is now widely regarded as an important generative force of cultural change and archaeological research on gender, households, class, and ethnicity has exploded in the past two decades. At the same time, social research is either underutilized or ignored in the broader debate on the importance of archaeology in the modern world. In the past year we have seen worldwide religious violence, increasing violence against women, massive migrations, and nationwide protests erupting over racial inequality. Archaeologists are doing important work on these topics that inform our understanding of the present, but are we, as a field, doing a good enough job emphasizing the relevance of this work to modern social concerns? Is social archaeology adequately represented across the field and through funding sources? What challenges do we face and what barriers remain?

Cite this Record

Introduction: Why Social Archaeology Matters. Kristin De Lucia, Santiago Juarez. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403774)


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min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;