“A hugely valuable and important volume which speaks to the future as much as the past. Archaeology, as practiced in this volume, reveals both human stories of oppression and resistance and evidence of the social processes which continue to shape how people define themselves. The need for such insights is more pressing than ever, and this volume delivers.”—Andrew Gardner, author of An Archaeology of Identity: Soldiers and Society in Late Roman Britain
“An excellent collection of case studies exploring the complex links between the material world and various aspects of individual and collective identity, with research emphases ranging from small household objects to entire landscapes and from Roman Britain to contemporary Puerto Rico.”—Douglas E. Ross, author of An Archaeology of Asian Transnationalism
Archaeology of Identity and Dissonance: Contexts for a Brave New World demonstrates how humans adapt to new and challenging environments by building and adjusting their identities. By gathering a diverse set of case studies that draw on popular themes in contemporary historical archaeology and current trends in archaeological method and theory, it shows the many ways identity formation can be seen in the material world that humans create.
The essays focus on situations across the globe where humans have experienced dissonance in the form of colonization, migration, conflict, marginalization, and other cultural encounters. Featuring a wide time span that reaches to the ancient past, examples include Roman soldiers in Britain, Vikings in Iceland and the Orkney Islands, sex workers in French colonial Algeria, Irish immigrants to the United States, an African American community in nineteenth-century New York City, and the Taino people of contemporary Puerto Rico. These studies draw on a variety of data, from excavated artifacts to landscape and architecture to archival materials.
In their analyses, contributors explore multiple aspects of identity such as class, gender, race, and ethnicity, showing how these factors intersect for many of the individuals and groups studied. The questions of identity formation explored in this volume are critical to understanding the world today as humans continue to grapple with the legacies of colonialism and the realities of globalized and divided societies.
Diane F. George is adjunct instructor in anthropology at Fordham University. Bernice Kurchin is a scholar in anthropology, specializing in archaeology, retired from Hunter College.