Women's Networks and the Foundations of Mississippian Politics

Author(s): Jacob Lulewicz; Lynne Sullivan

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Kin, Clan, and House: Social Relatedness in the Archaeology of North American Societies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Mississippian societies were undoubtedly underwritten by networks of kin, clan, and other social relationships that are difficult to discern in the archaeological record. Structures of social networks provide contexts for social, political, and economic institutions and serve as conduits through which these institutions are generated, transformed, and maintained. We argue that a social network approach is uniquely appropriate to address themes of social relatedness in the archaeological record. We draw on continental, regional, local, and intra-community datasets to explore the social networks through which Mississippian peoples of Southern Appalachia forged identities, fostered communities, and mediated uncertainty. We focus in particular on a ceramic dataset from eastern Tennessee derived from whole vessels found in 79 burial contexts across 18 communities. We apply formal network analyses to dimensions of ceramic production and style to highlight both inter- and intra-community relationships indicated by distinct communities of practice and social signals. In doing so, we explore the social diversity among Mississippian communities and patterns of kinship that would have underwritten political institutions. These realms of social relatedness likely were solidified through women’s networks and political participation, yet served as durable foundations of Mississippian sociopolitics more broadly.

Cite this Record

Women's Networks and the Foundations of Mississippian Politics. Jacob Lulewicz, Lynne Sullivan. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450764)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22984