ANT 384M • Colonial Archaeology of Latin America
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
In this course we will focus on the link between material culture and patterns of social, economic, and cultural change and continuity in colonial Latin America. We will draw heavily from archaeology, history, and art history to focus on religious conversion, demographic change, colonial foodways, and technological change, among other themes. To study the role of material culture in colonial society, one may take a structural stance and try to relate different artifacts to different social classes, races, genders, or ethnicities. Alternatively, one may emphasize the different ways that material culture was interpreted by a variety of agents, and how these agents incorporated material culture into everyday life and strategies for breaking down (or reinforcing) barriers between social classes, races, genders, or ethnicities. We will take the latter approach, emphasizing the politics of cultural change in different places and regions of colonial Latin America, and how different agents reproduced or undermined the imperial interests of Spain and Portugal in their daily life.
Integrating history and archaeology presents epistemological challenges that need to be addressed if we truly aim for a greater collaboration between the two fields. Therefore, one of the goals of this class will be to stimulate students' imagination about what colonial archaeologies should look like, and how to incorporate archaeological and historical work beyond simply decorating history with photographs of artifacts (that are often not very pretty), or looking for what really happened in documents (that are often not very truthful).