Knowing My House: An Indigenous Theory and Practice of Being

Author(s): Kathryn Arthur

Year: 2017


The Gamo, who live in the highlands on the edge of the southern Ethiopian rift valley, are known for their unique and beautiful household architecture. Tourists ogle their oval basket-like grass houses and peer inside for mere minutes hoping to observe some secret moment or practice previously unknown to them. Similarly many archaeologists long to feel beneath their trowels a widespread hard surface indicative of a house floor. We remove the tangible aspects of the home, bit by bit, hoping to discover a preserved moment, day, or life time from the past, as a door to understanding how the house and its materials were interdependent with their residents’ activities and identities. In the Gamo way of knowing the world, the entangled entities of humans, homes, and household materials are living beings and as such they all engage and experience the life process together. This article offers an alternative way of knowing and being in the world as a theory for understanding the daily lives of farmers and craft specialists as materialized in and near their homes--an ontology of the house.

Cite this Record

Knowing My House: An Indigenous Theory and Practice of Being. Kathryn Arthur. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431441)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15345