On Grounding ‘Margins’ and ‘Marginals’: With Brief Visits to the Bennachie Colony (Scotland) and New Iceland (Canada)

Author(s): Jeff Oliver; Agusta Edwald

Year: 2017


Marginality is a perennial trope within the literature of settler societies. This paper is concerned with how people, past and present, become caught up with labels of ‘marginality’, among other forms of ‘identity history’. The theory is grounded in what are potentially conflicting ideas: one that places emphasis on fluidity and change, the other which takes a firm materialist stand. The apparent impasse is resolved by clearly identifying contexts—both material and historical—where temporary stabilities are achieved in the way people relate to each other and to the things around them. Such an approach helps ground our understanding of how ‘margins’ and ‘marginals’—and host of other distinctions besides—become stuck and unstuck. Our first stop is the uplands of mid-19th century Northeast Scotland, and the Bennachie Colony, where high rents and rationalized farming practices transformed wage-labourers, by turns, into ‘squatters’ and ‘proletarian heroes’. Our second stop is turn-of-the century Manitoba, where settlers could be singled out as ‘undesirables’ in one context but exhibiting widely shared values in another. How can this be? The answer lies at the juncture between people and things. As ever the devil is in the detail.

Cite this Record

On Grounding ‘Margins’ and ‘Marginals’: With Brief Visits to the Bennachie Colony (Scotland) and New Iceland (Canada). Jeff Oliver, Agusta Edwald. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 432065)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16293