These "Thin Partitions"
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These "Thin Partitions"

Bridging the Growing Divide between Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology

Joshua Englehardt, Ivy Rieger, Joshua Englehardt, Ivy Rieger

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eBook - ePub

These "Thin Partitions"

Bridging the Growing Divide between Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology

Joshua Englehardt, Ivy Rieger, Joshua Englehardt, Ivy Rieger

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These "Thin Partitions" explores the intellectual and methodological differences that separate two of the four subdisciplines within the field of anthropology: archaeology and cultural anthropology. Contributors examine the theoretical underpinnings of this separation and explore what can be gained byjoining them, both in university departments and in field research.In case studies highlighting the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration, contributors argue that anthropologistsand archaeologistsare simply not "speaking the same language" and that the division between fields undermines the field of anthropology as a whole. Scholars must bridge this gap and find ways to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration to promote the health of the anthropological discipline. By sharing data, methods, and ideas, archaeology and cultural anthropology can not only engage in more productive debatesbut also make research accessible to those outside academia. These "Thin Partitions" gets to the heart of a well-known problem in the field of anthropology and contributes to the ongoing debate by providing concrete examples of how interdisciplinary collaboration can enhance the outcomes of anthropological research. Contributors: Fredrik Fahlander, Lilia Fernández Souza, Kent Fowler, Donna Goldstein, Joseph R. Hellweg, Derek Johnson, Ashley Kistler, Vincent M. LaMotta, John Monaghan, William A. Parkinson, Paul Shankman, David Small

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Year
2017
ISBN
9781607325420

1

Research Collaboration in Mesoamerica and the Pueblo Southwest


VINCENT M. LAMOTA AND JOHN MONAGHAN
In this chapter we examine the relationship between cultural anthropology (which for present purposes we define broadly to include ethnography, ethnohistory, and linguistics) and archaeology in Mesoamerica by comparing it with the relationship of its counterparts in the Pueblo Southwest. Mesoamerica and the Southwest are similar in that the ancestors of the native peoples who live in these regions arrived, for the most part, millennia ago and today’s people maintain significant social and cultural links to the past. Towns in both regions have been continuously occupied for hundreds if not thousands of years. The languages spoken in these areas are directly descended from languages spoken before the Common Era. This continuity has extensive material expressions, ranging from art and iconography to technologies. This seems to be a situation that is ideally suited for historical arguments that would make for a robust collaboration among archaeologists, ethnohistorians, linguists, and cultural anthropologists.

Early Collaboration

The early archaeologists and cultural anthropologists working in these areas certainly maintained a high level of professional interaction. In Mesoamerica, Robert Redfield’s work in the Yucatán, which helped to define the peasant as a social type, was facilitated by his archaeological colleagues who were excavating the nearby site of Chichén Itzá (Redfield 1941). Alfonso Caso, the archaeologist and jurist, was the founding head of the agency in Mexico concerned with the health and welfare of contemporary indigenous people, the Instituto Nacional Indigenista. During his time as director he employed hundreds of cultural anthropologists. Scholars known for their archaeological work also carried out pioneering ethnographic studies. Sir Eric Thompson, for example, the distinguished archaeologist of the Classic-period Maya, did fieldwork among the Mopan Maya and published what remains one of the handful of ethnographic monographs on this group (Thompson 1930). The idea that archaeologists could carry out ethnographic research can be traced to Tozzer (1907) and prefigured ethnoarchaeological studies, of which there are a number of examples (e.g., Parsons 1990, 2001). By the same token, Boas carried out archaeological work in West Mexico. Students of ancient art and writing have also carried out research among speakers of indigenous languages. We would probably have little understanding of the place sign in Mixtec script, for one prominent example, if it were not for research among contemporary Mixtec people: Mary Elizabeth Smith (1966) determined that the Codex Colombino, a masterpiece of indigenous literature, was set in the coastal region of Western Oaxaca. She traveled by mule and foot to many Mixtec communities (there were few roads in the 1950s and 1960s) and asked people the Mixtec names of present-day towns, archaeological sites, and features of the landscape. Combined with documentary evidence, she was able, in this way, to place the events depicted in the Codex Colombino in a geographical space (see Smith 1966). Even the original Mesoamerican culture area definition was based on both archaeological and ethnographic observations (irchhof1968:24–25).
A similar level of association between early cultural anthropology and archaeology can be found in the Southwest. Scholars such as Frank Hamilton Cushing and Jesse Walter Fewkes worked on both sides of what would later become a more clear-cut divide between archaeology and cultural anthropology. Research often had a direct-historical character. Fewkes, for example, working in the Hopi region in the late 1800s and early 1900s, attempted to track Hopi clan migrations in antiquity by matching oral traditions to the many archaeological sites that dot the Hopi landscape (Fewkes 1900; cf. Bernardini 2005). While Fewkes was himself a prolific excavator, he acquired a nontrivial portion of his ethnographic data via Alexander M. Stephen, a former soldier who recorded information on Hopi culture in the 1880s to 1890s while living at First Mesa (Parsons 1936:xx–xxi)—a partnership that prefigures a more formal division of labor between the subdisciplines. A decade or so later, the American Museum of Natural History’s Huntington Survey to the Southwest, launched by Clark Wissler in 1909, included scholars tasked with collecting ethnographic, linguistic, and archaeological data on Southwest cultures (e.g., notably, Nelson 1916), in what was originally envisioned as an integrated anthropological project; however, the ethnographic and linguistic components were ultimately discontinued in favor of archaeological research, in part because of archaeology’s greater potential for public appeal (Snead 2005:33–35).
Such concerns notwithstanding, cross-fertilization continued in subsequent decades. Two classic, mid-century Pueblo ethnographies—Mischa Titiev’s (1992 [1944]) Old Oraibi: A Study of the Hopi Indians of Third Mesa, and Fred Eggan’s (1950) Social Organization of the Western Pueblos—both included at least brief sections on archaeology. Both authors conducted fieldwork for their respective studies at Hopi in the early 1930s under the supervision of Leslie A. White. Titiev (1992:96–99) proposed that factionalism, as documented at Oraibi, was likely an important factor in the dissolution of Pueblo communities in the past, and might therefore explain patterns of village abandonment reflected in the archaeological record. Eggan (1950:123–133), on the other hand, sketched out the archaeological sequence in the Hopi region, as it was known at the time, to provide time-depth for his study of Hopi social organization—to give “some perspective on the chronology involved in the development of the modern Hopi social structure” (Eggan 1950:131). Eggan’s views on archaeology were likely informed by his extended visits to the Peabody Museum’s excavations at Awatovi on Antelope Mesa (Eggan 1950:vii), where he sojourned for several weeks at a time in 1937 and 1938, traded notes with director J. O. Brew, and “helped dig” (Davis 2008:60). Notably...

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Citation styles for These "Thin Partitions"
APA 6 Citation
Englehardt, J., & Rieger, I. (2017). These “Thin Partitions” ([edition unavailable]). University Press of Colorado. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/2032745/these-thin-partitions-bridging-the-growing-divide-between-cultural-anthropology-and-archaeology-pdf (Original work published 2017)
Chicago Citation
Englehardt, Joshua, and Ivy Rieger. (2017) 2017. These “Thin Partitions.” [Edition unavailable]. University Press of Colorado. https://www.perlego.com/book/2032745/these-thin-partitions-bridging-the-growing-divide-between-cultural-anthropology-and-archaeology-pdf.
Harvard Citation
Englehardt, J. and Rieger, I. (2017) These ‘Thin Partitions’. [edition unavailable]. University Press of Colorado. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/2032745/these-thin-partitions-bridging-the-growing-divide-between-cultural-anthropology-and-archaeology-pdf (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Englehardt, Joshua, and Ivy Rieger. These “Thin Partitions.” [edition unavailable]. University Press of Colorado, 2017. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.