From Categories to Connections in the Archaeology of Eastern North America

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A renewed adoption of relational perspectives by archaeologists working in eastern North America has created an opportunity to move beyond categorical approaches, those reliant on the top-down implementation of essentialist models or “types.” Instead, emerging approaches, concerned with highlighting the agential power of relationships between individuals, communities, and institutions, and, more generally, with simply moving beyond categories, are allowing archaeologists to move from the bottom-up, focusing instead on the relationships that underlie, and indeed constitute, social, political, and economic phenomena. In this paper, I synthesize recent archaeological work from across eastern North America in which archaeologists have productively moved beyond a reliance on categorical perspectives. I explicitly focus on the potential for relational perspectives to recalibrate our social and temporal referents in crafting archaeological narratives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-579
Number of pages43
JournalJournal of Archaeological Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • General Arts and Humanities


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