Living Tactically: Postmortem Agency and Individual Identity in Institutional Burials

Author(s): Jessica Skinner

Year: 2017


Structure and institutional durability often play a role in the manifestation of identity by shaping the avenues available to human actors and by creating the landscape in which these actions are carried out. However, through durable institutions move volatile agents who have the ability to act tactically within often immobile institutional environments. These constraints and freedoms of individuals within institutional settings often culminate in the representation of an individual in death, particularly within institutions that are universally in charge of directing the movement and activities of individuals in life and who are also responsible for a burial program. By analyzing orientation, associated grave goods, and spatial patterning evident from the 2013 excavations of the Milwaukee County Poor Farm Cemetery (MCPFC) I seek to reveal the small ways individuals are able to signal and retain identity in the burial setting of a large institution through both tactical and unconscious action.

Cite this Record

Living Tactically: Postmortem Agency and Individual Identity in Institutional Burials. Jessica Skinner. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435192)

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): 283