Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Archaeology Division
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
Secondary Theme: Materiality
Archaeological research has long investigated the initiation of sedentism and the processes of urbanization as markers of global human development, including causes, consequences, and social dynamics of ‘settling down’. With this focus on sedentary lifestyles, however, comes a tendency to overlook the continued physical movements of people and the attendant social transformations that arise from those movements. In the Americas specifically, cartographic documentation of Indigenous populations at the time of contact, early anthropological notions of “culture areas”, and academic rejection of diffusionary theories in archaeology combined to create a somewhat static view of the relationship between people and the “New World” landscape (see Jones 1997). Ethnography, history, and modern Indigenous knowledge, however, each demonstrate dynamic movements of human populations in the Americas stemming from a variety of motivations: trade, immigration, forced relocation, pilgrimage, etc. It is tempting to frame these population movements within a broad paradigm of diasporas (see Dufoix 2013), however, we recognize this concept may not capture the nuances of population movements as dynamic, multi-scalar, and multi-vocal. In this session, we propose an exploration of population movements in the Americas through a variety of archaeological case studies to interrogate the ways in which population movements foment social change. Drawing initial inspiration from theories of diaspora, we challenge our participants to critically engage with the ways people materially construct or deconstruct their social identities in relation to others within the context of physical movement.