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Glaze Wares and Coalescent Communities in the Late Precontact American Southwest: A View from Tijeras Pueblo, New Mexico

Date and Time: 
Thursday, May 17, 2018. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center
Archaeology--Political Landscapes: Past and Present
Meeting Description: 

The concept of “coalescent societies” has been used by archaeologists and ethnohistorians in the American Southeast as a framework for understanding Native responses to the systematic violence, social upheaval, and demographic disruptions associated with the colonial fur and slave trade during the seventeenth century. Without diminishing the trauma of life in a colonial “shatter zone,” coalescence has increasingly come to be seen as a set of creative, agent-driven strategies that supported the survivance of diverse indigenous societies in the Southeast into the later historic and modern era. Stephen Kowalewski (2006) has argued that this coalescent framework may have some heuristic utility for understanding local responses to massive social upheaval and demographic disruption on a macroregional scale in other times and places throughout the Americas, pointing to the late precontact Southwest as one area where engagement with this idea may be particularly productive.

In this presentation, I take up Kowalewski’s challenge and explore how the concept of “coalescence” might help us to understand the emergence of large nucleated towns, such as Tijeras Pueblo, in the Rio Grande Valley during the fourteenth century, as strategic local responses to increasingly stressful and disruptive social and demographic trends on a macroregional scale. In particular, I use materials analysis techniques to trace how the circulation and transformation of culturally situated knowledge and practice about how to properly make and use glaze-painted pottery was implicated in locally constituted coalescent processes of community and identity formation among the late precontact Eastern Pueblos of the Central Rio Grande.

Judith Habicht-Mauche has been a member of the anthropology faculty at UCSC since 1990. Her research interests include the study of the technology, production, and exchange of ancient pottery from the American Southwest and Southern Plains. She is an expert in the archaeological application of mineralogical, chemical, and isotopic techniques for sourcing artifacts and reconstructing ancient technology and patterns of regional, inter-regional, and cross-cultural interaction. Her more recent work explores the broader social contexts for the technological development and use of glaze-painted pottery among the Rio Grande Pueblos of New Mexico. In 1996, she received the first of several major NSF awards to explore the application of lead isotope analysis and other mineralogical and chemical characterization techniques for understanding the origin and spread of glaze-paint technology and how this technology was embedded in local, regional, and macroregional scale social processes throughout the late precontact Southwest. Over the last two decades, Professor Habicht-Mauche and her lab group have published a series of papers outlining the successful results of this innovative research effort. In addition, she has co-edited two volumes, The Social Life of Pots: Glaze Wares and Cultural Dynamics in the Southwest, AD 1250-1680 (2006) and Potters and Communities of Practice: Glaze Paint and Polychrome Pottery in the American Southwest, A.D. 1250 to 1700 (2013), which highlight the work of younger scholars engaged in cutting edge materials research on Southwestern pottery.