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They cover from so called Formative societies in lowland Venezuela to Inca-related ones in Bolivia; from the coastal shell middens of Brazil to the megalithic sculptors of SW Colombia. Yet, the papers are related. They have in common their shared rejection of established, naturalized typologies that constrain the way archaeologists see, forcing their interpretations into well known and predictable conclusions. Their imaginative interpretative proposals flee from the secure comfort of venerable typologies, many suspicious because of their association with colonial political narratives.

Instead, the authors propose novel ways of dealing with archaeological data. Juan Gomez-Quinones. Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America. Susan Toby Evans. Where the River Ends. Shaylih Muehlmann. Globalization and the Decolonial Option. Walter D. The Mixtecs of Oaxaca. Andrew K. On Decoloniality. On the Plaza. Setha M. Decolonizing the Westernized University. Daphne V. Decolonizing Development. Joel Wainwright. Susanna B.

The Cooking of History. Ethnicity in Ancient Amazonia. Alf Hornborg. History and Language in the Andes. Centering Animals in Latin American History. Martha Few. Race, Rights and Rebels. Reclaiming Basque. Jacqueline Urla. The Legacy of Mesoamerica. Robert M. Rethinking Race in Modern Argentina. Paulina Alberto. Maya Figurines. Christina T. A Political History of Spanish.

Amazonia in the Anthropocene. Nicholas C. Archaeology in Latin America. Benjamin Alberti. Mobility and Migration in Indigenous Amazonia. Miguel N.

Against Typological Tyranny in Archaeology : A South American Perspective

The Archaeology and History of Colonial Mexico. The Geographies of Social Movements. Ulrich Oslender. Pampa Grande and the Mochica Culture. Izumi Shimada. The Oxford Handbook of the Incas.

Sonia Alconini. Ownership and Nurture. Marc Brightman. Mixtecs, Zapotecs, and Chatinos.

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Arthur A. Fernando Santos-Granero. Fragmented Lives, Assembled Parts. Alejandro Lugo. Women, Ethnicity and Nationalisms in Latin America. A Prehistory of South America. Jerry D. Fields of the Tzotzil. George A.

The Stuff of Archaeology: An Introduction

The Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies. Michael E.

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Amazonian Geographies. Jacqueline M. Sara Castro-Klaren. William E. Sacred Geographies of Ancient Amazonia. Denise P Schaan. Mobility, Markets and Indigenous Socialities. After Spanish Rule. Imperial Subjects. Matthew D. Zuleika Arashiro. Tracing Dominican Identity. Made in Latin America. The Beginnings of Mesoamerican Civilization. Beyond the Blockade. Susan Kepecs. Archaeologies of Early Modern Spanish Colonialism. The Archaeology of Wak'as. Tamara L. An Archaeology of the Margins. Salikoko S. Mapping the Country of Regions.

Nancy P. Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History. Archaeologies of Rock Art. Similarly, William Y. Adams and Ernest W. Adams ; cited in Wylie argued that our typologies should be instrumental and practical, serving our analytical purposes. They maintain that typological categories often lend to a lazy use of universal or essentializing categories.

These arguments parallel our own position here about the use of typologies, both in the manner of sharpening our archaeological thinking and practice as well as critically monitoring the use of typologies as deployed through power relations. Another example regards the classification of societies themselves into situational and relational categories that depart from the stronghold of the political model concerning bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states Service , as well as the divisions of egalitarian, ranked, and stratified Fried These divisions brought with them the notion that bands and tribes are generally decentralized and egalitarian, while chiefdoms and states are predominantly centralized and hierarchical.

Constricting research objectives and interpretations and their presentation to the public within these bounds overlooks a wealth of diversity and means of traversing between these categories. For a time, many archaeologists were content or forced to classify societies within these appropriate boxes—including us! Yet, there are numerous societies that do not quite fit these typologies, including complex villagers of the Natufian Ancient Near East, Northwest Coast foragers in North America, and Middle Woodland societies in eastern North America.

In these cases, the focus on hierarchical versus egalitarian societies obscures the immense diversity of social structures. Perhaps a more useful distinction is between hierarchy and heterarchies, or societies in which there are numerous ways to organize, and opt out of, systems of authority. Egalitarian societies are rarely societies of true equals, but always represent a spectrum of individuals with authority earned by knowledge, skill, or experience that are better, or more accurately, termed heterarchies Crumley However, there are increasing forms of authority that are formalized temporarily or situationally, as with war leaders in the Pacific Northwest who, in times of conflict, gained high degrees of control.

In fact, these societies had numerous powerful chiefs, some with hereditary positions, even within the same village. The point is that heterarchical societies can manifest among peoples organized at different scales in an immense variety of ways Crumley ; Stark Instead of focusing on how we can stuff one of these societies into the boxes mentioned earlier, it would be useful to consider alternate, or a variety of, models and categories that apply to understanding such social phenomena. It is important to understand that although debates related to social archaeology have been ongoing for decades, an explicitly anarchic framework switches the mode of knowledge production.

It recalls a form of archaeological pluralism from early post-processual debates, reconsiders its political efficacy, and transforms it to be contemporary, political, and urgent. Clearly, the past few decades of posts i. Many social scientists have sought to put societies of the past and present into discussions highlighting their level of complexity without much consideration of the possibilities of existing as simultaneously complex and not complex, egalitarian and hierarchical cf.

Wengrow and Graber This is most clearly seen when dealing with temporal typologies that many of us refer to as culture history. Archaeologists have noted the utility to move beyond just categorizations of temporal units. Partially due to the multitude of chronological advances now possible 14C AMS, TL, OSL, Bayesian modeling , partially due to changes in our understandings of past material worlds, we are seeing the walls of culture history bending and breaking all over the world.


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Very simply put, this means that homogenizing the markers of culture history is no longer accurate and causes more confusion in the literature than it helps. This is reflected in a variety of examples across eastern North America like the traditional separation of Adena earlier and less complex and Hopewell later and more complex see Lepper et al. Similarly, categories such as Terminal Late Woodland and Emergent Mississippian— used to describe social changes in the American Bottom along the boundaries of the first millennium A.

Comparable issues also pervade South Asian archaeology in the distinctions between Microlithic and Mesolithic cultures in Northern India. An anarchistic archaeology has the potential to become a direct intervention into the ways in which we create or reuse vocabulary specific to our regional archaeological landscapes. Once we acknowledge the spectrum of time and types, we allow for a fluidity to exist between both. This is mediated by the possibility of more precise chronological and material markers emerging. Classifying for the sake of classifying puts things into boxes that are hard to bend or break.

An anarchic approach to typology does not emphasize the items categorized but the relationships between the set of artifacts, features, humans, or sites. Nevertheless, we emphasize that if we can ground our thinking in a plurality of typologies, we are more likely to break our focus on singular ways of viewing assemblages or conducting analyses on sites or regional settlement patterns. We hope that a focus on pluralism grounded in anarchic philosophy provides a chance for archaeology to know the past in multiple ways.

In doing so, we aspire to document and present the past from a multitude of directions, all of which provide a better context and direction for humans in the present. References Cited Adams, William Y. Alt, Susan M. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 27 2 — Butler and Paul D.

Welch, pp. Current Anthropology 53 5 — Journal of Anthropological Archaeology — Bakunin, Mikhail [] Marxism, Freedom and the State. Freedom Press, London. Barrier, Casey R. American Antiquity — Savage Minds blog 31 October.