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Persistence between the Longue Durée and the Short Purée: Archaeological Perspectives on Colonialism and Indigeneity in New England

NYAS - Anthropology Lecture Series
October 26, 2015

Robert Sebastian (l), Ashbow Sebastian, Jr. (r), and Meredith Luze (back), inspecting a white-clay tobacco pipe recovered from the Eastern Pequot reservation while visiting Silliman's archaeology lab at UMass Boston.

An anthropological understanding of colonialism and indigeneity in the Americas requires confronting several important questions about the connections between time, materiality, place, and people. How do archaeologists and other anthropologists measure culture change and continuity and at what scale, and why is the question framed in that way? How do people engage their pasts to live through their present and anticipate their future, and why has that been harder to visualize for archaeologists than for cultural anthropologists? What are the implications of these concepts and interpretations on pressing political and heritage issues today? This presentation will explore some potential answers to these questions, using an example of a collaborative archaeological project* since 2003 between the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, a Native American community in Connecticut that has occupied its reservation lands since 1683. I argue that a notion of “persistence” may provide some relief to these questions (or more appropriately perhaps, dilemmas), not only as both an interpretive and a lived practice that resolves some tensions of the “longue durée” of indigenous history and the “short purée” of colonialism, but also as a perspective growing out of on-the-ground community engagement with indigenous communities today.

*awarded Wenner-Gren funding in 2004 and 2010

This event will take place at the Wenner-Gren Foundation offices at 470 Park Avenue South (betw. 31st and 32nd Streets). A dinner and wine reception (free to students) will precede the talk at 6pm, with the lecture beginning promptly at 7pm.

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