Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Cynthia Robin
This article discusses notions of class and ethnicity in ancient Mesoamerica. Class differences in Mesoamerica were papered over by the inclusion of individuals of varying social statuses within corporate groups that constituted the basic building blocks of native society. Lockhart (1992) describes these groups as “a series of relatively equal, relatively separate and self-contained constituent parts of the whole.” Subgroups included both the noble houses (teccalli) and commoner groups ( calpulli , or tlaxilacalli ). Ethnicity was another form of identity that cross-cut class lines. It can be defined as social identity based upon the presumption of shared history and common cultural inheritance.
Carmen A. Laguer Díaz
This article examines nation building and its perpetuation through social memory and social identity theory to understand how it affects, and is affected by, the politics surrounding archaeology. It is divided into five sections. The first, memories of a frontierless political community, describes how social memory helps maintain national unity in a region that has been greatly influenced by waves of migrations for centuries. The second, the (re)creation of identities, delves into issues of social identity theory and how it depends on social memory to develop a sense of self. The third, the politics of archaeology, deals with the ethics and political issues that permeate archaeological research. The fourth, racial schizophrenia and identity crises, focuses on the case of Puerto Rico. The last section, from Puerto Rico to the Caribbean, concludes the article.
If the authorship of rock art by particular groups is assumed, the very object under study can unwittingly be falsely attributed. Our interpretations have largely failed to incorporate evidence, in the colonial era and before, for the integration, mixing, and métissage of new peoples from two or more previously different ethnic groups. The results are equally assumed—namely: that one essential group impacted on the other, and the consequent imagery is a record of this secular narrative. Contrary to these simplistic reflections, creolization emphasizes cultural resilience, subversive agency, and a theoretical usefulness that enables better understandings of the rock art of people on the far side of colonial frontiers and texts.
The chapter discusses the contributions of ethnographic research to study of ceramic manufacturing practices in past societies. Ethnoarchaeology and material culture studies are identified as the two main approaches that have been used to frame research in modern pottery making communities; the former explicitly asking archaeologically relevant questions with a tendency toward positivist theoretical stances, the latter asking how ceramics are constituted in social relations using humanistic and symbolic theoretical frameworks. The discussion focuses on how research using these approaches and various theoretical frameworks have identified constraints upon manufacturing processes, how these are manifest during different stages of production, and how these have been synthesized to explain variation in manufacturing practices and finished products.
From Ethnohistory to Ethnogenesis: A Historiography of Hunter-Gatherer Cultural Anthropology in California and the Great Basin
Comparing the hunter-gatherers of California and the Great Basin illustrates enormous differences between the two regions in terms of indigenous society and the types of issues anthropologists have traditionally addressed. Nonetheless, the anthropological study of these neighbouring regions shares common roots. This article details a historiography of anthropological research of these two vast areas, focusing on the transition from early ethnohistorical sources to the current focus on issues of ethnogenesis. Understandings of the hunter-gatherers of the American Far West have gone hand-in-hand with the changing relationships between Europeans/Americans and native groups. This includes work by the Bureau of American Ethnology, the important work by Kroeberian anthropologists, and the post-Kroeberian period of collating and interpreting the ethnographic and ethnohistoric records. This article highlights recent critiques of previous anthropological work such as revisionists’ views of early twentieth-century memory anthropology, Steward’s view of Great Basin organization, the Ghost Dance movement, and neo-tribalism.
Robert Jarvenpa and Hetty Jo Brumbach
Genetic and archaeological evidence indicates that South Asia was one of the world's most densely populated geographic regions in the Late Pleistocene. Genetic coalescence ages point to the colonization of the region by Homo sapiens between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago, corresponding with the Middle Palaeolithic stone tool industry. Middle Palaeolithic occupations occur prior to the Toba volcanic super-eruption of 74,000 years ago, suggesting Homo sapiens may have reached South Asia earlier. Populations emerging from Africa may have used coasts and transcontinental routes to disperse across the Indian Ocean rim. Indigenous South Asian hunter-gatherers survived the Toba super-eruption, and adapted to environmental changes across the Late Pleistocene. About 35,000-30,000 years ago, new cultural innovations appear that correspond with environmental deterioration, habitat fragmentation, and demographic increase. Lifestyles of foraging populations became increasingly heterogeneous during the Holocene. During the Middle and Late Holocene, foraging populations coexisted alongside complex urbanized state-level societies
This article discusses identity in Roman Egypt, covering collective identities, state identity, social classes and legal categories, shifts in collective identity, gender, ethnicity and cultural-religious identity, and names as identifiers of kinship bonds and of other collectivities. Identity is about one's place in society. As under the Ptolemies, descent was crucial to belonging to an elite group, and upward mobility was possible. Through wealth, civic donations, and networking, members of the elite were candidates for social promotion. But compared with Ptolemaic times, there was a downturn for the ordinary Egyptian man, woman, and their children, whose path towards the elite groups was limited in many respects. Compartmentalization gained the upper hand. After the Constitutio Antoniniana, wealth replaced descent as the crucial criterion to belonging to the elite.
This article examines the status, history, and development of the Jewish communities in Alexandria and Egypt during the Roman period, using the evidence from literary writings of Philo and Josephus, sub-literary texts (the Acta Alexandrinorum and the Oracle of the Potter), and documentary papyri. It considers the violence in Alexandria in 38–41
The Light of the Flame: Use and Symbolism of Light and Lighting Devices in Traditional Greek Culture
This chapter presents a study of light, in particular light produced by flame, by investigating the most representative lighting devices used in preindustrial Greece. The symbolism of lighting devices in traditional Greek society, used either out of necessity or in ritual ceremonies and customs as well as in representations in art and in social discourse, is examined to reveal aspects of that society, its common beliefs, and its social differentiation. The oral literature, the myths and sayings still in use in Greek language, are studied as cognitive instruments, as forms of thought, to understand the way people interpret the world and act within it. Finally, the oil lamp, and its ceremonial use in Modern Greek society, which is closely connected to the Orthodox Christian rituals, is interpreted as a symbol that represents national and cultural identities.
James M. Taggert
Ethnicity is the classification of self and others that develops among groups occupying the same region and sometimes competing for the same scarce resources. Scholars of the ancient as well as contemporary Nahuas have found evidence of ethnicity in material artifacts, stone monuments, pictorial manuscripts, prose manuscripts created under the direction of the Spanish friars, Colonial-period wills, notarized documents, court petitions, testimony, parish records, and contemporary ethnographic observations. Implicit or sometimes explicit in their investigations is the question of how Nahua ethnicity changed after the fall of the Aztec Empire in 1521. There is little doubt that the Nahua concepts of ethnicity changed in the centuries following the Spanish Conquest, but there is also considerable evidence that the Nahuas did not adopt and in some cases actively resisted the Spanish concept of ethnicity hinged to race.