Architecture of Speration

*Bolded terms are key words I have identified*

Pauketat 2000

The premise of this text discusses the formation of social hierarchy, specifically taking a stance that the majority of the populace, or “commoners” are responsible for their own social position. Pauketat argues that people actively shaped a class system through subconscious actions, therefore the creation of social hierarchy can be considered the unintended consequences of which the likes Joyce HWTA YEAR spoke of.


After this claim he makes a distinction between practice and agency theory. Stating that practice theory is one of the many theoretical frameworks that considers human behavior as part of an explanation. He narrows his definition by explaining that practice theory considers agency as a factor of social evolution (115).


I think to effectively summarize his next section a guide to unreflective knowledge and their respective disciplines/ creators would be useful.


Term Associated Scholar
Doxa, Habitus Bourdieu
Langue Saussure
Collective Consciousness Durkheim
Practical Consciousness (praxis) Marx
Social Action Theory Weber
Boasnian Culture Concept Boa
Hegemony Gramsci



These dispositions are not unchanging, and are influenced by culture. They are closely entwined with tradition (117). The moment where tradition is actively reproduced is termed Surface Phenomena. I think the quote below nicely sums up the relation between these terms and their place in archaeology.


Meaning does not reside in artifacts or in people, but for the moment of interaction between the two” (Robb 1998: 337, citing Thomas 1996, Cited in Pauketat 2000: 117).

Once again, Pauketat states that individuals are unaware that they actively reproduce tradition or, that they may only intend to reproduce a portion of it, however alteration of tradition can still sustain meaning, especially in large scale interactions. Reiterating the first point that groups are a sum of their total actions, he states that it is not a leader of a group that makes a direct impact, but the practice of many (Pauketat 2000:117).

This relates to archaeology in regards to monument making. While often, monuments are used as markers of political change (eg. new leaders) Pauketat critiques the literature for ignoring the non-elite contribution to social change (Pauketat 2000: 117). When examining commoner cooperation, the author seeks to answer the question; if people resist change that departs from their routine tradition, why do they submissively accept political co-optation? Pauketat begins to answer this using the pre-Columbian forms from the Mississippi Valley. His research brings him to identify that these monuments were built in phases, and while they were elites, they possessed a sense of community. This form of Social Negotiation suggests political events regularly brought people together to create moments of interaction, which allows for the reproduction of tradition. In accordance no evidence of resistance was found, however there were records of the process in songs which uses the pronoun “we”.


So, why would a community come together to build these mounds?

According to Pauketat, we cannot assume individuals in the past understood domination as we do today. Most likely, individuals with power were acting in accordance to tradition and produced unintended consequences. I find this model to work well only in communities where there is no evidence for resistance, I think researchers should carefully rule out the possibility of domination.


Moore 1995

Moore focusses on how patterns of access can inform researchers on the degree of social status stratification in Andean architecture. The landscape of hierarchy as he refers to it, dictates what individuals have access too, as well as evidence of socio-political relation. Through his analysis of route maps, he outlines an “ideology of separation” (176). His interpretation focusses on “the ruler and the ruled”, his findings indicate that there was physical separation between the two. An example is the amount of security found between higher status monuments and the general public. The main purpose of the architecture Chan Chan ciudadelas was to create a physical separation between the upper class rulers and their subjects.


Architecture of Exclusion: Podcast

The podcast for this week reviews American architecture and makes “subtle but intentional” (4:35) racial segregation through urban planning. The roads are built to restrain access to certain neighbourhoods. In addition, there was segregation in regarding to house deeds, and the most extreme example was a black community which was gated from the outside. Here it is seen that as recently as the 1960’s in Baltimore individuals were continued to be socially stratified by their physical positions in the margins of the landscape.


Moore, Jerry.
1995 “The Architecture of Social Control: Theory, Myth, and Method,” – Chapter 5 in Architecture and Power in the Ancient Andes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Pauketat, Timothy R.
2000. “The Tragedy of the Commoners,” in Dobres, Marcia-Anne and John Robb, eds. Agency in Archaeology. London: Routledge. Pp. 113-129.

Phenomenology and the Archaeology of Movement

“But are they non-places or are they just particular sorts of places?” – Barbra Bender, 2001

 For my primary source blog, I decided to look at the archaeology of pathways. I believe pathways play an important role in the dispersion of people and bridges culture and fits into a larger understanding of people and space and place. I would like to focus on the specific social theory of phenomenology and its role in understanding the archaeology of landscape. I believe the application of phenomenology allows for a deeper understanding of the human condition and perspective that goes beyond an economic, political and ritualistic interpretation of the past.

Definition and History

Phenomenology can be defined as the study of the structure of human experience and consciousness (Johnson 2012). I would like to start this section with a quote by J. Andrew Darling, “they [pathways] are different, because unlike buildings which act as containers, trail systems define social space that is external to them”. (Darling 2009, 64). This is the fascinating and unique aspect of studying paths, which connect various separate points on a landscape. Evidently, this creates literal avenues for identity, economic, social, and political understanding in archaeology. Phenomenology is a philosophical approach meant to consider the human experience, it is the relationship between being and being-in-the-world (Tilley 1994). It is Merleau-Ponty who states that the human body provides a fundamental medium between thought and the space it occupies (Tilley, 1994). This medium can experience space in a variety of ways, Tilley (1994) outlines five different types of space. First, there is somatic space, which involves the human body and its kinetic relation to space, such as walking. The second type of space is perceptual space, which is the relative egocentric experience of space, often involving emotional attachments. The third category is existential space, which is experienced through process in a space. Examples of such process are shared social memories of occurrences such as mythic or ritualistic characteristics of a space. The fourth is architecture space which is a tangible and deliberate production of space. Finally, cognitive space is essentially the reflection of the experience of a being in their space. Through the amalgamation of these categories, a full experience of space and a range of interpretations can begin to form.


I believe that phenomenology alone cannot fully describe the experience of space, and while an important component of research, benefits from the accompaniment of structuration theory. The addition of structuration allows for a deeper understanding of the processes behind the perception and experience of space, such as how they are formed and maintained. This is essential for a holistic and structured (pun intended) understanding of the use and purpose of space and place.


How Phenomenology and Pathways Add to the Larger Discussion of Space and Place

To start, I offer this quote by Christopher Tilley as a  stepping stone into the discussion of pathways and phenomenology; “a strong text is one that is kept open, and read many times” (Tilley 1994, 30). Here, Tilley compares a pathway to a piece of writing, suggesting that a well used path emerges from a shared network of movement among bodies. By following paths, a shard (social) memory is created. Paths are essential mediums for routing and maintain social relations (Tilley 1994). Tilley elaborates on the greater functions of paths in the archaeology of space and place with three points. First, paths create a structured homology between/among the points. It is a visible connection which illuminates links between features of the landscape. Second, following paths allows archaeologists to understand the points along the path in sequential order. Which brings me to the third point which is that paths structure experience of the point they link and provide a sense of linearity between them. By walking a path one can gain insight to those who created the path. Of course there are many features within the land that have changed since then, yet it is still modes for understanding of a larger site context within the landscape.


There is debate as to whether trails are considered places (refer to the quote by Bender) but as Snead (2010) states, trails and pathways are active engagements of the land, that are returned too time and time again. He explains this further with his research on the Parajito, where tail networks link communities. Trail networks are so heavily relied on they are in fact given names, he specifically mentions the Sandia Mesa Trail network, which have been used over generations. This palimpsest quality is demonstrated by its deep cut into the land. The reoccurring use shaped the experiences of the individuals who walked them, which allowed for shared social memory, as well as maintained relations between communities over long periods of time. Here is where I believe structuration theory can provide further details on the somatic occupation of space.

The cognitive perception of phenomenology can be better explained in an example from Barbra Bender (2001), who shares a story of a young black boy passing between segregated neighbourhoods. During his journey he feels scared because of the disapproving stares he gets from the white neighbours. It only when he sees his father, and smalls his cigar and finally rests upon his lap that the boy is at ease. This story highlights that through his passage between the neighbourhood, his experience is defined by the existential world, which is brief and impermanent. There is no material item which could convey this carnal sense based passing of the body to archaeologists. The point here is that the experience of this passage would be unknown without a phenomenological consideration.


An interesting example of enthogeography comes from Darling (2009) and his research on the recitation of the Oriole Song which is the singing of certain songs along certain points of the landscape. This exemplifies a point Darling made where he stated that travel is a geographical and social phenomenon which is tied to shared cognitive perceptions. As Tilley (2010) states, paths are experience from a point of view. In this case, it is the being of the body in a social space which allowed for the recitation of song along the path of travel. It is through these songs that spiritual journeys are enacted, which I believe is an example of Erickson (2009) final point on pathways and their symbolic meaning to a culture. Which is fitting as Darling makes the point of how shared cognitive mapping is a medium for a shared experience and its maintenance, which enters the realm of structuration.


To further demonstrate the fundamental importance of the relationship between pathways and a broader archaeological context I would like to comment on this quote by Tim Ingold; “the human experience unfolds not in places, but along paths” (Ingold 2001, 148). In regards to nomadic people, Ingold refers to them as “inhabitants” rather than “locals”. For these populations, pathways are their primary experience of life is not restricted by a single place, rather defined the constant movement between them. I found this to be such an interesting concept, as throughout the semester we have spoken about the importance of space and place and the impact the landscape has when it exerts its agency upon its inhabitants. For nomads, it is all the paths they have taken, and all the paths they will continue to take, which creates their sense of place. Maybe it is just my western-centric cartographic understanding of place, but I am truly fascinated by the notion of movement through the landscape, as a primary source of place for people.



A phenomenological approach is high debatable. In fact, my first encounter with the theory was on a dig where a supervising archaeologist absolutely tore into the idea. It has left a bad taste in my mouth ever since. However, seeing how it can be used adjacent with other theoretical approaches, I understand it’s value, while heeding its limitations. The most well known contest for phenomenology is Andrew Fleming’s work on Megaliths. Johnson (2012) nicely summarizes his main critiques whilst contributing a number of his own. From my understanding the lack of evidential rigor is Fleming’s primary concern. In regards to pathways, this can be applied to the obvious fact that what is there now was once not, and what was once there, is now not. By this I mean there were clearly features of the land that may have influenced the decision of a path to be made that left no remnants for archaeologists to find. In addition, previous pathways could have been incredibly useful for a population, but were built over to the point where archaeologists could no longer theorize their use. One of Johnson’s critique of phenomenology is that these experienced are only representative of a single demography: able-bodied males, most likely adults. This is obviously a bias, as the landscape was clearly not solely experienced by this population. As mentioned with the Bender (2001) article, the experience is specific to ethnicity. This relates to Johnson’s second point; the incomplete nature of this theory. It is here where I have to disagree with Johnson, who criticizes interdependent models because they have been “highly rejected in the past” (Johnson 2012, 179). I believe this adds to the holistic quality of the work, supplementing areas where theoretical frameworks such as structuration cannot accurately interpret alone.

In this post I have demonstrated how one category of landscape can be placed within a larger site context with the aid of theory. I explore the role of phenomenology which I believe can be linked to structuration as they share their interests of the mundane while attempting to recreate the perception and embodiment of the land. I believe this highlights the fundamental point in this course, that is the importance of situating research in theory to fully understand and connect data. Using a phenomenological approach to the study of pathways allows for a deeper understanding of trade routes, dispersal, and inter-community relationships. It recognizes the how and why pathways were chosen; such as less resistance, symbolic meaning of the chosen path, as we saw in the example of the Oriole people. I have also considered the limitations to the use of phenomenology in archaeology but have explained that the use of phenomenology is not inherently flawed if carefully approached.



Bender, B.

2001 Landscapes on-the-move. Journal of Social Archaeology,1(1), 75-89.

Fleming A.

  1. Megaliths and post-modernism: the case of Wales. Antiquity 79:921–32

Ingold, T.

2011 Being alive: Essays on movement, knowledge and description. Taylor & Francis.

Johnson, M. H.

2012 Phenomenological Approaches in Landscape Archaeology*. Annual review of anthropology41, 269-284.

Snead, J. E., Erickson, C. L., & Darling, J. A. (Eds.).

2011 Landscapes of movement: trails, paths, and roads in anthropological perspective (Vol. 1). University of Pennsylvania Press.

Tilley, C.

1994 A phenomenology of landscape: places, paths, and monuments (p. 10). Oxford: Berg.

Tilley, C.

2010 Interpreting Landscapes: Geologies, Topographies, Identities; Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology 3 (Vol. 3). Left Coast Press.

Structuration and Social Memory

The articles in this weeks reading are laden with numerous themes mentioned throughout the course. In both articles, there is a discussion of temporality in relation to the use of space and place, the benefit of including everyday and even mundane activities into archaeological analysis, as well as social memory and new themes such as practice and structuration and how they are influence by social agency.

Roddick et al. 2014

This article focusses on the development of individual and competing political economies based on the dispersal of archaeological structures around political centers. It is asserted that Kala Uyuni’s political authority is influenced by use of the land as well as the geo-political landscape in reference to surrounding political spheres. The method used to asses the development of these power centers was the integration of vertical and horizontal deposition analysis. The horizontal model tracks the spread and emergence of political economy across the landscape. While a vertical deposition analysis allows archaeologists to observe an individual political authority and economic biography (Roddick et al. 2014). The use of two types of depositional histories highlights the importance of comparing individual community political structure and economy across those in the surrounding area. In this article there is an emphasis on time which uses research conducted on Lake Titicaca to further understand Kala Uyuni’s place in the larger geo-political landscape while considering the vertical deposition which reflects changes within the Kala Uyuni political structure. The vertical model is essential to understand the political power centers as they came to be. This is where the use of the term “black box” appears in this article. This term evokes curiosity about the process in which these political centers were formed. In the Roddick et al. (2014) article there is a quote by Johansen and Bauer (2011) which emphasizes social relations among elites who are actors in a social playing field, which I understand to be a synonym of doxa, a set of unchallenged and therefore limiting norms and values within a society. The adherence to these norms in a culture can be observed through vertical depositional analysis. This is where I believe the Pauketat’s (2001) quote starts to fit into this article. In this case political spheres, are produced by a dynamic relationship of taking and giving between cultural tradition and the actors within the tradition. It is here where I would like to call attention to this quote found in introduction of Roddick et al. (2014):


“these archaeologists understand that the local not only reflects the political, but in fact, the local actually produces the political programs that are visible across geopolitical landscapes” (140)


Here, the authors state how archaeologists can come to understand the inner workings of the “black box” and decipher how space and place in Kala Uyuni played a key role in the emergence of political power. The consideration of place in understanding political power is tied to how individual actors experience place and therefore everyday social relations amongst said actors. Roddick and colleagues mention how deposition can be unplanned, yet have unintended consequence. This is a theme Joyce (2004) deeply discusses in her article. The use of vertical deposition analysis here, allows for examination of middens through generations can indicate social relations and certainly was not meant to do so. This is where archaeologists can “look up” from the past. Where we can infer details about a culture based on the unintended results of their actions. In this case, as Roddick et al. (2014) states, this creates social memories which are recreated through generations and become practice and traditions which are unquestioned recreated through time.


The main points I have taken away from this article is that the amalgamation of vertical and horizontal biographies of sites which includes everyday social interactions results in a deeper understanding of the process in which political centres and traditions are formed and maintained through generations. In addition, it is evident that landscape has acted back upon the Kala Uyuni community and influence their social hierarchy which is responsible for larger inter/a social cohesion.

Joyce 2014

In this article, Joyce uses the application of a “looking forward” lens to understand the intended and unintended meaning behind the construction of monuments in Honduras. Considering the intended and unintended practices allow archaeologist to better understand the human and structural agency involved in changing traditions. From the beginning of the article, she acknowledges the dilemma of accepting the actions of past people as intended, while they act with intentions, discursive results may occur. I believe Joyce’s heavily focus on “looking forward” enters the area of phenomenology for two reasons; 1. It is heavily debateable because it is based on perceived unintended consequence of actions, and 2. It is largely understood through an attempt to situate oneself in the role of another, which I what I believe the fundamental characteristic of phenomenology. Moving on, there is quote that particularly struck me on page nine, where Joyce cites Giddens in a block text that starts off with “the structural of social properties of social systems are both the medium and the outcome of practices that constitute those systems… structure both enabling and constraining…” (Joyce, 2004: 9).  I find this to be a large theme in the analysis of maintaining tradition across time within a landscape, in which draws attention to expression of agency through everyday life actions. As Joyce mentions, it is here, in the mundane, that archaeologists can understand how cultural knowledge is shared and reproduced over generations. In her analysis, she finds older structures provide later Mesoamericans a newly constructed landscape, these human structures become part of the existing landscape, however Joyce ponders what the intended outcomes of the original structures were. She suggests that unintended durability is a consequence that created the potential to see this as an intended feature. That in fact, these monuments were most likely not intended to be seen by future peoples.

Duality of structure states that structure is both the medium and the outcome of actions preformed by agent. I take this to mean that unintended and intended actions are produced by their very conception and then executed by how the actors choose to maintain tradition while drawing upon knowledge from a pre-existing structural framework that guided their monument construction. By this I mean that the actions (materials such as clay, and degree of technical expertise) carried out by early Mesoamerican builders were informed by previous structure which influenced the building of later monuments. As Joyce (2004) states, the earliest builders were confined by the landscape they were situated in and by the behavior of the available resources. I believe the awareness of palimpsests of earlier monuments may have perpetuated restriction of materials due to unquestioned knowledge, or doxa, of practices.

Both articles make reference to unintended consequences of expressions of human agency enacted in social memory which are reflected in a product of this agency. I am still fascinated by the quote mentioned by Giddens where he states that the products of social outcomes are formed through a medium of social relations which in themselves are a product of social outcomes. I visualize this as putting two mirrors in front of each other. In Joyce’s conclusion she mentions how even the unintended outcome of action was melded into the pre-existing structure and understanding of tradition. I find this to really highlight the point in Pauketat’s quote about how practices are processes, which as Joyce demonstrated, were clearly influence by what came before them, and will influence what comes after. As the Roddick et al. (2014) article explained, it is through the “black box” that one can understand the structuration as the products of the past and influences of the future.

Joyce, Rosemary A.
2004 Unintended Consequences? Monumentality As a Novel Experience in Formative Mesoamerica. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 11(1)

Roddick, Andrew, Bruno, Maria and Christine Hastorf.
2014 Political Centers in Context: Depositional Histories at Formative Period Kala Uyuni, Bolivia. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

Response to Irina’s Post

I was having trouble submitting on Irina’s blog so I decided to upload my response to my blog.


I agree that Phenomenology ‘s limitations lie within the researchers perception and ability to separate their biases when interpreting human experience within space/place.

I would like to respond to your last point about additional interpretations of the reading, specifically Basso (1996).  When I read this article I did not find the interpretation of the Apache experience of place to be much different from my own. For example, I associate certain places as being good or bad based on personal memories formed there, and even larger societal notions such as the eeriness of a cemetery. I believe this relates to phenomenology as the practice ignores an individual experience of a place ( such as a person or group avoiding a space for various reasons), and castes a generalizing shadow of the perceived potential attitudes and use of a place. In addition, without ethnographic guidance such as that provided by Dudley, archaeologists relying on phenomenology may never know the purpose and meaning of a space/place. This is where the importance of a theoretical framework is necessary, as you mentioned.

Optional Blog Post Week 3

I would like to take this opportunity of an optional blog post to discuss the two case studies presented in Johnson (2006 & 2010). Analysis of these case studies allows me to demonstrate my understanding of the movement “New Archaeology” from its dominate predecessor, cultural-history. Theory allows for information to be processed in a structure, therefore ensuring an interpretation that is unlikely to become circular and untestable (Johnson 2006).

In Johnson (2006), the role of theory is heavily discussed and established. Using the  example of castles, Johnson outlines two possible interpretations of fortified residences (definition provided by Royal Archaeological Institute). In his first interpretation, he suggests castles are an opportunity to study political competition during a transition between feudalism and capitalism. A primary example is castle building and rebuilding which served as competitive emulation (Johnson 2006, 104). The second interpretation of changing castle styles is based on cultural evolution, and identities. Johnson states that structural theory tells us representation of elites are “staged and restaged” (Johnson 2006, 104). It is through these lens that archaeologist are capable of drawing explanations for the change in castle styles. As Johnson wrote, these explanations are equally correct, regardless of their direction.

In Johnson (2010) builds upon the previous reading where he demonstrates the need for theory, in this article he uses the examples of megaliths to explain what New Archaeology has provided to the discipline. Through his analysis he emphasizes processualism, which as he outlines right before his conclusion has provided five observations a cultural-history perspective could not have done. These include the ability to explain, not merely described while drawing upon ethnographic analogies. Uses a testable scientific method which allows for consideration of the adaptation of culture and view of megaliths as an organ in a cultural system, rather than an isolated trait.

Ultimately, Johnson uses these two examples to highlight the benefit of theory as well as the importance of New Archaeology. Theory allows researchers to give meaning to their data, while New Archaeology forces scholars to explain processes and acknowledge a variety of factors rather than describe a find and publish it.