Excavating Personhood in the 19th-Century Graveyard

Author(s): Madeline Bourque Kearin

Year: 2016


The St. George’s/St. Mark's Cemetery in Mount Kisco, NY, offers an ideal site in which to investigate the construction of 19th-century middle-class personhood. Previous studies have generally conceptualized the gravestone either as a passive reflection of social realities or as a site of the momentary suspension of social difference. The proposed study will marshal historical and archaeological evidence in demonstrating how gravestones functioned as active participants in the articulation of identities and accordingly, in the negotiation of power. The gravestone represents a crucial player in the performance of middle-class habitus. Though tied to larger historical movements, the construction of the American middle class took place within the realm of everyday material practice, in which the gravestone constituted an instrument for the enactment of embodied dispositions. By revealing the contingencies surrounding the formation of middle-class personhood, this study will denaturalize the categories that organize both historical and present-day social realities.

Cite this Record

Excavating Personhood in the 19th-Century Graveyard. Madeline Bourque Kearin. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434246)


Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 550