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Fingerprints of Communities: Decolonizing Archaeological Data Analysis through Networks

During the upcoming 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Washington DC, Lewis Borck (Leiden University), Corinne L. Hofman (Leiden University), Manfred Schäfer (Konstanz University), Angus A.A. Mol (VALUE Foundation/Prince Claus Fund), and Daniel Weidele (Konstanz University) will present a paper entitled 'Fingerprints of Communities: Decolonizing Archaeological Data Analysis through Networks'. Read the abstract below!


This paper uses the Nexus 1492 database, built over approximately 30 years of fieldwork, to examine ceramic attribute variability throughout the Antillian islands. Regional ceramic analyses often focus on the construction of ceramic typologies that are then used to compare typological proportions, differences, and similarities at various spatial resolutions across temporal periods. Long-standing critiques of the use of typologies and taxonomies (sensu Brew 1946; Gnecco and Langebaek 2014; Henry et al. 2017; Wylie 1992) focus on reifying power of their fixed nature. Essentially, typologies become the epistemologies within which we examine the archaeological record, and create the historical narrative. This can become an issue when we also acknowledge that we interpret the past through our modern framework. Thus, in order to more fully separate ourselves from the analysis of the archaeological record, or to decolonize the analysis of archaeological data (sensu Rizvi 2015), we use a networked approach to examine the distribution of ceramic attributes within and between the Antillean Islands. Our goal is to approach a more emic understanding of how communities of practice emerged and to help construct an indigenous social history prior to, and after the violent arrival of Europeans.