A theory on cultural inversion: resistance, resilience and agency within the archaeology of colonialism

Author(s): Allison Carlton

Year: 2016


Colonial studies have progressed exponentially in archaeology, but such studies can suffer from contextual limitations. Analyzing colonialism in many different social contexts adds to its potential as a lens through which to study the archaeological record. Diverse applicability would allow archaeologists an opportunity to make sense of colonialism’s profuse influence on the people it affects. Throughout the 19th-century, the Nipmuc from eastern Massachusetts faced many of the common processes of colonialism such as religious conversion, land acquisition, and economic and political control. However, their identities were negotiated by various means. Lately, theories of colonialism in archaeology have begun to analyze the identities of the people who in the past tended to be erased by the dominant settler party when confronted by colonialism. This paper presents a study of the Massachusetts Nipmuc through the lens of colonialism as a theoretical construct to show how they may have negotiated their identities in their particular colonial setting. In particular, items of personal adornment are analyzed to assess whether there is evidence that the Nipmuc participated in the social discourse and practice surrounding respectability or whether they attempted to culturally invert or mimic such notions of respectability to cope with racism.

Cite this Record

A theory on cultural inversion: resistance, resilience and agency within the archaeology of colonialism. Allison Carlton. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404061)


Agency Race Resistance

Geographic Keywords
North America - Northeast

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;