Daehnke Blog Post

“My goal in this article is to illustrate how complex issues of cultural resource stewardship and heritage management can be in the twenty-first century” (251).

There is a problem in giving native peoples a voice. One reason is that sometimes there is more diversity than is recognized in one area that does not get recognized on the federal level. “They were not, however, the only possible stakeholder in the region” (254). This is distorting diversity and power dynamics, privileging only a few. Some tribes have risen up to contest their diversity and separation from other tribes making it difficult to satisfy everyone which hinders the possibility of research. The example that is used to illustrate this point in the article is the following:  “To add to the mounting tensions, individuals descended from Chinookan-speaking Clatsops declared that they were actually an entirely separate body from the Chinook Nation, and promised to begin their own quest for recognition” (260). Issues such as these raise tensions with native relations as well as issues with unrecognised treaties and other sources of tension. Native tribes only gain rights when they are recognized by the government, so as they seek this recognition tensions arise between them and the government, and between tribes themselves.

The system of tribal recognition is flawed. “But these sovereign communities were connected by large social networks, extensive inter-marriage, cultural affinity, regional economic exchange, and shared territories. As a result ‘individual Indians had multiple associations and multifaceted identities that would complicate future attempts at categorization’” (262). This problematic practice is what leads to these tension; it is the larger system at work that causes these tensions and problems. However, this does not mean that there is no hope for these unrecognised communities. “A variety of stakeholders can participate in or comment on heritage management programs conducted under the auspices of the federal government” (263). It just seems to be hard for them to have a voice.

“The challenges and benefits of negotiating stewardship roles and levels of collaboration between stakeholders is a topic that has received recognition and growing attention in heritage literature over recent years” (270). This makes it difficult for people negotiating. However, archaeologists and researchers are not innocent of causing some of these issues. There seems to be an implied lack of recognition for native people’s world views and ideology in favour of science and scientific understandings of the world. “But too often disagreements over stewardship and collaboration are simplistically viewed as a dichotomous struggle between scientifically minded archaeologists and a non-scientifically minded stakeholder” (270). With too many interested parties it becomes difficult to reach compromises that are satisfying to everyone.


De Leon Blog Post

This article was done with ethnographic analysis rather than archaeological analysis to study a current people. This study looked at the culture and material culture surrounding the migration of people from Mexico to the United States through the arid dessert to avoid detection from authorities of the United States Border Patrol. This is an illegal migration in demanding and dangerous territory which people must prepare for. This study looked at the material culture that gets created through these unique practices. “This material culture has been shaped by 20 years of institutionalized enforcement practices that have funneled [sic] people toward the Sonoran Desert” (491). The strategy of the border officials to focus on the easy areas to enter the United States from Mexico has forced migrants to take dangerous routes resulting in them needing special equipment in order to both survive and remain undetected. I would say that this is an example of a structured series of practices. The law dictates that you cannot cross the border and these people then create a new path around such obstacles. I would relate this to other themes we have studied, especially with last week’s readings about the commoners. This is an example that shows that a marginalized group that does not have power to create structure is still able to influence, change and subvert it.

A few of the main aspects of material culture that he looked at was clothing and water bottles. The migrants attempt to camouflage themselves by painting them black or having black options. They think this will allow them to hide and be less conspicuous to the border officials. However, they have found that not only does this make it more dangerous to cross the desert, but that it may help border officials find the people as they use heat sensing radar and other advanced technology. The black attracts more heat, making the water hot as well as the body hot and thus making people more susceptible to heat related ailments. This shows that although people tend to subvert the system, there are still road blocks in their path. They also do not bring other survival equipment so if they are captured they aren’t thought to be smugglers. Guides have been known to abandon or hurt the crossers so they are not common either.

It was mentioned in the article that there are sometimes water makers along the path as well as other markers to help people on their journey but this was not the focus of the study. These people try their best and have an arsenal of tactics to cross this desert which is represented by the material culture. If we were to study this phenomenon archaeologically this is what we should find. This is what links this article to the course content along with relating it to movement through space and culturally learnt behaviour on how to move within that space. This desert has a culture that is specific to their ideologies and ideas of how to move in the world. Although the black is counter to survival, it thrives in this secretive culture; even if it does not work, it is an idea that is culturally passed on to potential migrants and to all those who are attempting to traverse this desert.



Source Blog

Practice Theory, Structuration and the Doxa

These three concepts all seek to help understand why things happen and the factors that lead to why things happen. They seek to understand how human agency and structure interplays in practice. They are all aspects of culture theory, a way of understanding the world through the understanding of cultural practices, and why those practices exist and function in the way they do. This kind of understanding can be helpful for archeologists to explain and understand the actions of people in the past. There are a lot of archeological questions that cannot be answered under traditional theoretical frameworks and modes of understanding, and these frameworks can help to aide in answering a different type of question.

Practice theory allows for an understanding of the human body in a different way. “At the core of practice theory lies a different way of seeing the body. Practices are routinized bodily activities; as interconnected complexes of behavioral acts they are movements of the body” (Reckwitz. 251). This is a different way of understanding the body. It feels like bodies are only shaped through culture and does not directly account for human agency to account for the way people act (although this is covered in other theories). Practice theory theorizes about how these learned routine practices lead to social practices and structure as a whole. “A social practice is the product of training the body in a certain way: when we learn a practice, we learn to be bodies in a certain way (and this means more than to ‘use our bodies’)” (Reckwitz, 251). These social practices become a cultural practice which become normalized throughout the culture through these routine practices. By looking at cultures in this way, the archeologist/researchers can look for evidence for these normalized routine activities.

The idea of unconscious practice theorized in practice theory also ties into the idea of the doxa and its affiliates. Doxa refers to the unconscious social practice, those which people do not talk about; the things that seem natural and that are unquestioned by the people in the culture partaking in. This is similar to the concept of conditioned bodies in practice theory. The routine actions of the body, talked about in practice theory, are also unconscious and unquestioned by the people partaking in the practices. However, once it starts to be questioned, it falls into other categories: heterodoxy and orthodoxy. For example, “orthodoxy is conservative and looks backward to the re-establishment of previous and its tactic beliefs and naturalized conventions:” (Holton, 43). It refers to the mode of practices that get normalized to people as it is traditional and has always been that way. Although these seem to be keeping the traditional the same, it is always being reinterpreted by people and gradually changing over time. Heterodoxy is the complete opposite; it is when practices are called into question to be actively changed (Holton, 43). It then becomes possible for active change of any cultural practice. Even though there are unconscious unquestioned practices leading to social behaviour, there still is the possibility for human agency to question these conditioned practices (heterodoxy) and lead to cultural change. Archeologists need to consider the possibility that human action can help in understanding cultural change over time.

The concept of the doxa can help in our understanding of the world. It can, however, also be used in conjunction with other theories as it it has quite a few similarities to them. For example, “Bourdieu’s use of doxa as a principle of epistemology thus means that he effaces perceiving a possible duality between doxa and reflexive discourse” (Myles, 96). There is also a strict duality in structuration theory to aid in understanding culture and how it works. Structuration theory attempts to explain the complicated relations between structure (political, economic, etc.) and human agency. Other theories in the past have tried to underplay the effect of human agency and the ability to change the world around them. Under this theoretical framework, structuration theory attempts to understand the complicated relationship between human agency and imposing structure. “Structuration theory attempts to recast structure and agency as a mutually dependent duality” (Rose, Scheepers, 218). Structuration theory is a basis for understanding the world and why thing happen the way they do, both in the archeological record and the present. This can interrelate with the doxa and practice theory as they are all aspects to understand how human agency interacts with pre-existing structure.

There is another way to understand structuration theory called AST or adaptive structuration theory. “AST provides a model that describes the interplay between advanced information technologies, social structures, and human interaction” (DeDanctis and Poole, 126). ATS leads to better understanding of structuration that includes technology and innovations being introduced into a society. New technology can call into question traditional practices which can be related to the aforementioned concept of heterodoxy.

I believe that using all of the aforementioned strategies to understand why culture functions the way it does can help to answer questions impossible to ask otherwise in archeology. Some such issues with understanding major aspects of culture that have not been definitively determined by material remains in traditional archeological frameworks are gender identity and gender roles. “…the acquisition of gender identity does not pass through consciousness, it is not memorized but enacted at the pre-reflexive level” (McNay, 101). A society with a binary understanding of gender identity and definitive norms could be going along with routine and through the guise of practice theory we can understand it as a routine bodily practice. The concept of the doxa keeps these roles the same and unquestioned, and if it was ever questioned, it would be reaffirmed through orthodoxy. This is just one example of how these theories can be used together to understand large scale social frameworks and why things function in culture the way they do.

In the context of space and place, these theories could be easily applied to organized, culturally sanctioned use of space. How we move through space are learned bodily behaviours such as those outlined in practice theory. These movements are often unquestioned (doxa) or reaffirmed through traditional beliefs and traditional ways of constructing spaces (ex. always use roads and streets, etc). Although these spaces are created through the structure, there is always room for human agency to reinterpret traditionally used space, especially with the advent of new technology (ATS) (ex. started making paved roads for cars, etc). These concepts are useful in the understanding of why people construct, interact with and change space, and the frameworks that allow it to happen.

Works Cited


Reckwitz A. () Toward a Theory of Social Practices A Development in Culturalist Theorizing. European Journal of Social Theory 5(2): 243–263 ONLINE: http://journals1.scholarsportal.info/pdf/13684310/v05i0002/243_tatosp.xml

Rose and Scheeps,(2001). Structuration theory and information system development – Frameworks for Practice Department of Computing Science, Aalborg University, ONLINE:


McNay L. Gender, Habitus and the Field; Pierre Bourdieu and the Limits of Relexivity. Theory, Culture & Society February 1999 vol. 16 no. 1 95-117 ONLINE


DeDanctis and Poole (1994). Capturing the Complexity in Advanced

Technology Use: Adaptive

Structuration Theory. Organization science/VO1. 5, No. 2, 121-147

Holton R. (1997) Bourdieu and Common. SubStance, Vol. 26, No. 3, Issue pp. 38-52 ONLINE http://www.jstor.org/stable/3685593

Myles J. (2004). From Doxa to Experience Issues in Bourdieu’s Adoption of Husserlian Phenomenology. Theory, Culture & Society 21(2) 91-107. ONLINE http://tcs.sagepub.com/content/21/2/91.short

Primary Source Blog

Landscape and exterior space is something that only more recently has been incorporated into archaeology. The term landscape itself if uses widely to mean a variety of different things by archaeologists, “That is, has landscape simply become a synonym for natural environment or settlement pattern” (158). However, in the article An Archaeology of Landscapes: Perspectives and Directions by Anschuetz et; al, they define a term called the Landscape Paradigm and outline with it how landscape can be useful to archaeology. They define 4 major principles to this paradigm: 1 Landscape is not synonymous with natural environment, 2 landscapes are a cultural product, 3 they are areas of cultural and community activities, and finally 4 they are dynamic constructions (160-161). “A landscape paradigm offers the potential to accommodate, if not integrate, different theoretical perspectives even while these constructs seemingly exist in tension with one another in their presentation of alternative constructions of the past” (176). Incorporating this concept into the broader study of landscape archaeology allows us to utilize any theoretical framework such as those further highlighted in the article and in our study of space and place as a whole.

These authors claim that the study of landscape in archaeology helps provide a broad understanding of many aspects of cultures. They say that “ In particular, we believe that a landscape approach helps contribute to the building of fuller understandings of relationships among the varied spatial, temporal, ecological, and cognitive contexts in which people creatively interact with their environments” (164). Landscape archaeology is important to understand both broad patterns as well as understanding particulars about one culture and one site.

The study of landscape is not only useful to study singular sites, but to look at broad patterns over larger regions of time and space (161-162). “Because landscapes communicate information on how communities interacted with their environments over time, they serve as a medium for meaningful cross-cultural dialogue on the construction and reproduction of affiliations with places” (163). This allows for broad generalizations and cross-cultural comparisons to arise and be meaningful. Being able to understand how cultures arise in similar manners allows for archaeological questions about human nature to be answered as well as ethnographic analogies to be useful to the understanding of pas-cultures. However, issues arise when these claims become too generalized and specific, and the human element is removed. There are post processual critiques of these approaches, and broad generalizations done with the study of landscape in the past (162). That is not to say that the study of landscape is not useful, but rather that both larger scale and smaller scale questions beg to be asked to attain all available knowledge about cultural histories and patterns. Human agency is a large aspect that is overlooked in these broad studies and post-processualists argue that it need to be reincorporated for a more holistic understanding of why landscapes were use in particular ways. Critiquing the more traditional ways of looking at landscape is important to be able to answer newer and more numerous questions. In this course which deals with theoretical approaches to space and places, this post-processional argument about human agency and its importance to archaeological understanding is significant.

Along with critiques about post-processional critiques there are other frameworks that have a take on landscape. This article also outlines claims from the theoretical framework of environmental determinism and how it also does not allow for human agency in the shaping of landscapes. They use this quote to understand these claims: “In his work, Sauer specifically “sought to stress the agency of culture as a force in shaping the visible features of delimited regions on the Earth’s surface”” (164). This article then goes forth to explain how landscape archaeology adapted to include culture into the study. “Researchers of the latter perspectives apply social and cultural theory to landscape interpretation in three complementary ways…First, they often show a greater concern for sociocultural and political processes in landscape-shaping processes than people’s relations with specific natural environmental contexts. Second, they apply critical social and cultural theory in its humanistic interpretations. Third, they consider all forms of landscape, not just visible physical features, as cultural signifiers whose interpretation reveals cultural attitudes and processes” (165). This article articulates many different theoretical frameworks but always seems to pull it back to include human agency as a major aspect in studying landscape. “Associated with postmodernism generally and postprocessual archaeological approaches specifically, social formation and symbolic landscape approaches emphasize humanistic perspectives that prominently cast people as rational, creative, and aesthetic actors “(175). There was an emphasis in this article to reincorporate human agency into the study of landscapes which is an important aspect to consider when interpreting settlement patterns based on different theoretical frameworks such as is done in this course.

There is also a potential for historical interpretations when studying landscapes. “Historical ecologists characteristically embrace a traditional landscape concern of humanistic geographers, namely, the idea that vernacular and formally built landscapes reflect a group’s essential values and beliefs” (166). In this theoretical approach, socio-historical structures are important (this incorporates culture) in combination with the physical shape of the landscape (167). “Explication of linkages between changing occupation patterns and time perhaps is developed fullest in regional environmental analyses known as historical ecology” (166).

Ecological anthropology is defined in this article as useful for the understanding of settlement patterns. “Which considers the relations between the structure and of how a cultural group earns its living and the group’s natural environment” (168-169). This type of analysis is pivotal to understanding them as “settlement patterns, in effect, “provide a key for the reconstruction of ecological, cultural, and social systems” (169). The study of settlement patterns has been touched on from as many different theoretical perspectives as the study of landscapes themselves. Bindford (someone we have already studied in this course) talks about how while archaeological excavation is useful it is not as important for understanding broader concepts: “the landscape, not the site, is the arena for all of a group’s economic, social, and ideological activities: (170). Therefore, the study of settlement patterns should be on the forefront in site analysis and is a useful line of evidence to follow in order to answer archaeological questions. They also point out that this research can (and probably should) be interdisciplinary, especially with geographers and others who study landscapes in other capacities. Geographers and archaeologists working together created the distribution map which has been pivotal in understating landscape in any theoretical framework (168).

To sum up this article’s perspective on landscape: Landscape is not only a natural space but is shaped, modified by people in a cultural capacity (166).

Anschuetz et al. (2001). An Archaeology of Landscapes: Perspectives and Directions Journal of Archaeological Research, Vol. 9, No. 2. (157-221). ONLINE http://journals2.scholarsportal.info/pdf/10590161/v09i0002/157_aaolpad.xml

Useful Sources I Found While Doing Research

In the article

  1. Robbins and Rothschild (2002). Archaeological ethnographies Social dynamics of outdoor space. Journal of Social Archaeology. Vol 2(2): 159–172. ONLINE http://journals1.scholarsportal.info/pdf/14696053/v02i0002/159_aesdoos.xml

Since McMaster has a lot of outdoor space that is used, it will be helpful to analyze the potential evidence and how to contextualize it. In the article Archaeological ethnographies Social dynamics of outdoor space by Cynthia Robin (2002), she outlines some strategies for understanding outdoor space. Some useful insights on how to define outdoor spaces and landscapes include: “Processual archaeology began the archaeological study of the quantifiable and material dimensions of space to elicit information about social process, function and ecology” (160), “We briefly note five of the contemporary directions in spatial studies – the social construction of space, the social experience of space, gendered space, class and urban space, and the politics of space” (161). However, this article goes deeper and is more explicit in understanding different types of indoor/outdoor spaces. “As people in many past societies, particularly those we refer to as ‘complex’, constructed buildings out of permanent materials, the archaeological record, or at least that visible on the surface, is dominated by the remains of sites and buildings”(163). McMaster has a variety of different buildings which would make it a complex site such as those described in this example for the article. In our destruction scenario some buildings and at least their outlines will remain, allowing us to study the complex layout of the campus and possibly look into how the university grew over time. It will be important from some research questions to understand the interplay of buildings in the McMaster site and this article can be very useful for that. The article outlines why it is important to reincorporate outdoor space to best understand the complexity of a site and the entire use of space.


  1. Anschuetz et al. (2001). An Archaeology of Landscapes: Perspectives and Directions Journal of Archaeological Research, Vol. 9, No. 2. (157-221). ONLINE http://journals2.scholarsportal.info/pdf/10590161/v09i0002/157_aaolpad.xml

In the article An Archaeology of Landscapes: Perspectives and Direction by Anschuetz et al. they talk about the study of landscape in several different theoretical frameworks and their application to archaeology. They point out that consulting with experts such as geographers is useful to the understanding of the complex uses of landscape and out-door space. “A geographer, focused on how human groups extended themselves across space and differentiated themselves from one another in relationship to properties imposed by their natural environments” (158). Geographers are useful and help to answer archeological questions about complex culture. In our study of the demolished McMaster it would be important to also consult the appropriate experts (in the article they use geographers). This article also highlights what is meant by landscapes in an archeological study which will be useful to consider when defining our analysis goals and our potential analysis of this evidence (160-161). This article also touches on the historical study of settlement patterns and how these theories and techniques have been adapted and changed over time (since the 1940s) (168-171). This article is useful in defining what an archeological study of landscapes can tell us by defining the historical content as well as by applying it to several sites.


  1. Parsons (1972). Archaeological Settlement Patterns. Museum of Anthropology. (127-150) http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2949239.pdf

The article Archaeological Settlement Patterns by Parsons (1972) takes a broad view of archeology and the study of settlement patterns. Settlement patterns and their complexity are analogous to the complexity of the culture of the sites, and are used to define the complexity stages of societies (129). To understand the organization of the exterior of the university we will have to look at the settlement pattern and its organization and growth over time. This article has examples of the inclusion of settlement patterns to answer questions about the complexity of the culture (McMaster became more and more complex with new buildings, residences etc.).

  1. Emmanuel P. Baltsavias (1999). A Comparison Between Photogrammetry and Laser Scanning. Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. ONLINE http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/~lefsky/isprs/1139.pdf

There are very specific technologies that are used to assess landscape and settlement patterns. In the article A Comparison Between Photogrammetry and Laser Scanning by Baltsavias (1999), he tells us about all the different technologies that can do this kind of analysis and what each is best for. When we are doing our research on what we will be able to know and learn, what technology we should use will be an important aspect. This article goes well with the aforementioned articles pertaining to landscape and settlement patterns.

  1. Waselkov (1987). Shellfish Gathering and Shell Midden Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 10 (1987), pp. 93-210. ONLINE http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/20210088.pdf?acceptTC=true

One of the main things I think will remain after our theoretical destruction of the campus would be garbage since plastics last for a very long time. This is analogous to the study of middens and what they have to say about diet and other such questions. Archaeologists today often study shell middens and those with bones, such as in the articles Shellfish Gathering and Shell Midden Archaeology by Gregory Waselkoe. However, these are only analogous to the types of garbage we would have at McMaster. More research on the decay of cardboard and plastic would need to be done to understand what would still remain after the event and time frame we are interested in. However, we can use the ideas and theories around shell middens and other midden types to understand the culture of the university site because useful understanding other cultures is a staple of archeology. Another book that could be useful for this question is Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage by William Rathje and Cullen Murphy as it looks at garbage specifically and relates it to archeology. Garbage analysis can give insight into the material culture as well as the diet of the culture which can aide in answering many different archeological questions.

Berber House vs Architecture in Upper Zana Valley

These two articles talked about the organization of the home and how that related to exterior landscapes and cultural values/norms. These articles were different in their approaches but those were the common themes that linked them together and how they related to this course.

The first article, The Berber House, was a strange article which did not illustrate how this information was obtained or where/when this site existed and its cultural context. I was not sure if this referred to one specific house or to homes in a culture in general. However, there was some useful interpretation which led to insight on the culture. They do point to the fact that this organization of Berber House heavily relies on the cultural norms of the individuals and not on the functionalist approach and utility of the space. This organization of spaces relies on cultural ideas of opposition and also relies heavily on an understanding of the culture to understand them and their eccentricities.

I did some more research online and found this useful summary and introduction by Mitchell Benham (see link below). This article filled in some of the context that I think should have been in the article. He tells us that this is the house of typical Berber people of North Africa. Having a cardinal location makes it easier (at least for me) to situate the culture in my idea of space/place/and landscape (especially cultural landscape).

Gender binary plays a large role in the organization of space. This shows their cultural ideologies in how they utilized and organized their spaces. It allows for insight into the culture and how important their ideas of gender roles and spirituality are.

However, the second article was much more straightforward in explaining the context of attaining the information and the cultural context of the sites. They also related the interior of home and the organization of space. This article demonstrated cross-regional similarities in interior construction of space in South America.

However, in this context they seemed to relate the organization of space to parallels in the natural landscape such as mounds. This article also have a different focus; it did not seek to painstakingly explain the context behind the organization of space but illustrate that the same traditions are spread far and wide and they suggest a matrilineal lineage and marriage into other villages. This has a more determinsit approach in that it seeks to explain why the cultural organization of space exists and how it relates both to landscape and cultural diffusion. This article doesn’t really seek to explain why these places are organized in this way and just say how they were diffused (like the older archaeological approaches that did not seek to interpret).

Herein lies the difference between the two articles: one relies heavily on interpretations and explanations and the other shows how and why similar patterns were adopted over large areas. Although both look at the interior organization of space, they do so in polar opposite ways.


Works Cited