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Stephen W. Silliman

Dept. of Anthropology | University of Massachusetts, Boston

Stephen W. Silliman

I am a historical archaeologist who works primarily on topics pertaining to Indigenous people and colonialism. A major interest of mine is looking at the cultural continuities and changes in Native American groups as they navigated the social, political, and economic challenges of European and Euroamerican colonial activities across the North American continent from the 1600s to today. To date, my projects have focused on New England and California in the United States.

As a historical archaeologist (and historical anthropologist) I am interested in the interplay of material culture, architecture, documentary, and oral historical data sources as a way to tell more enriched and relevant stories about the past. Favorite such sources for me are mass-produced goods such as ceramics and glass, stone tools, and uses of space, all of which I use to try to address the nature of daily cultural practice, identity, labor, gender, and community life for people in the past. At the same time, I’m equally interested in the legacies and uses of the past for people in the present, particularly those descendent communities whose ancestors confronted, and whose current members often still confront, a colonial world. Because of that interest in the connections between past and present, the legacy of the repatriation movement, and a growing concern with issues of social justice, I have also become involved in collaborative indigenous archaeology, which is a growing component of global archaeology that envisions an archaeology with, for, of, and by Indigenous people. MyEastern Pequot Archaeological Field School is a long-term venture in putting that vision into practice in southern New England. I am also researching the use of heritage metaphors of "Indian Country", "cowboys and Indians", and related terms by the U.S. military in wars of the late 20th and 21st centuries.

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