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Wilmsen, Edwin Norman

Grant Type: 
Post-Ph.D. Research Grant
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Witwatersrand, U. of
Status: 
Active Grant
Approve Date: 
April 9, 2013
Project Title: 
Wilmsen, Dr. Edwin Norman, U. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa - To aid research on 'Pottery, Clays, and Lands: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Social Dimensions of Pottery in Botswana'

Preliminary abstract: The project has a dual focus: 1. excavation of an Iron Age site and a potting-clay mine; 2. investigation of potting technology and material procurement in the setting of indigenous customary control of resources. A chaîne opératoire study of pottery making, accompanied by an analysis of customary legal structures governing access to resources and their use can begin to bridge the temporal moment between potters of the present and those of the past. The assumption that technology is more enduring than are social institutions - kinship networks, customary legal structures, land tenure entitlements, intergenerational transfer of knowledge, among others - needs to be evaluated for each particular case. We plan to investigate two locations with shorter visits to four others. An investigation of customary legal structures coupled with analyses of materials that are objects embedded in such structures provides an avenue to a clearer view not only of the materials themselves but also of their materiality in their present and past social contexts. By observing a suite of instances of pottery resource procurement and production by speakers of distinct languages we will be able to identify variations in customary processes and extract commonalities for comparison with our archaeologically recovered materials