1st Edition

Material Worlds Archaeology, Consumption, and the Road to Modernity

Edited By Barbara J. Heath, Eleanor E. Breen, Lori A. Lee Copyright 2017
    312 Pages
    by Routledge

    312 Pages 48 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Material Worlds examines consumption from an archaeological perspective, broadly exploring the intersection of social relations and objects through the processes of production, distribution, use, reuse, and discard. Interrogating individual objects as well as considering the contexts in which acts of consumption take place, a range of case studies present the intertwined issues of power, inequality, identity, and community as mediated through choice, access, and use of the diversity of mass-produced goods. Key themes of this innovative volume include the relationship between colonial, political and economic structures and the practices of consumption, the use of consumer goods in the construction and negotiation of identity, and the dialectic between strategies of consumption and individual or community choices.

    Situating studies of consumerism within the field of historical archaeology, this exciting collection reflects on the interrelationship between the material and ideological aspects of culture. With a focus on North America from the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries, Material Worlds is an important examination of consumption which will appeal to scholars with interests in colonialism, gender and race, as well as those engaged with the material culture of the emergent modern world.


    1: An Historical Archaeology of Consumerism: Re-centering Objects, Re-engaging with Data
    Barbara J. Heath.

    2: Modeling Consumption: A Social Network Analysis of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale
    Elliot H. Blair.

    3: “The Blood and Life of a Commonwealth”: Illicit Trade, Identity Formation, and Imported Clay Tobacco Pipes in the 17th-century Potomac River Valley
    Lauren K. McMillan.

    4: Commoditization, Consumption, and Interpretive Complexity: The Contingent Role of Cowries in the Early Modern World
    Barbara J. Heath.

    5: Underpinning a Plantation: A Material Culture Approach to Consumerism at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
    Eleanor Breen.

    6: Acquiring Transfer-Printed Ceramics for the Jefferson Household at Poplar Forest
    Jack Gary.

    7: “With sundry other sorts of small ware too tedious to mention:” Petty Consumerism on US Plantations
    Lindsay Bloch and Anna S. Agbe-Davies.

    8: Health Consumerism among Enslaved Virginians
    Lori A. Lee.

    9: The Abundance Index: Measuring Variation in Consumer Behavior in the Early Modern Atlantic World
    Jillian E. Galle.

    10: Exploring Enslaved Laborers’ Ceramic Investment and Market Access in Jamaica
    Lynsey A. Bates.

    11: Cotton Estates and Cotton Craft Production in the Colonial-Era Caribbean
    Alan D. Armstrong and Mark W. Hauser.

    12: Identity, Choice, and the Meaning of Material Culture: Two Distinct Villages on One Danish West Indies Sugar Estate
    Elizabeth J. Kellar

    13: “Ambitious to be conventional”: African American Expressive Culture and Consumer Imagination
    Paul R. Mullins.

    14: All Consuming Modernity
    Charles R. Cobb.

    15:“Open the Mind and Close the Sale”: Consumerism and the Archaeological Record
    Ann Smart Martin.


    Barbara J. Heath is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA

    Eleanor E. Breen is a professional archaeologist for the City of Alexandria, Virginia, USA.

    Lori A. Lee is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences of Flagler College, USA.