Bonnie Newsom

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Maine, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10201

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Newsom, Bonnie (University of Maine System acting through the University of Maine) "Potters' Choices and Indigenous Voices; An Archaeological Case Study Exploring Indigenous Use of Space in Pre-Colonial Maine, USA"

Archaeological research that neglects the role of human agency and choice in the human/material culture dynamic disempowers, objectifies, and dehumanizes past peoples. In North American archaeology, this occurs through an over-reliance on Eurocentric approaches rooted in othering, such as bounded socio-chronological units, socio-spatial demarcations, and artifact-centered research designs that disengage people from their technologies and render them invisible in interpretations of the past. I intend to redress the problems inherent in non-Indigenous representations of Indigenous pasts with a case study framed around the following research question: Can an Indigenous scholar dismantle Eurocentric approaches to Indigenous pasts and successfully connect the material record of Indigenous peoples to a deeper and more meaningful, Indigenous socio-cultural context? I examine this question by comparing Indigenous ceramics from two of Maine’s river valleys to elucidate Indigenous agency and potters’ choices and to test the hypothesis that the Kennebec River in Maine served as a socio-spatial boundary dividing past Indigenous groups. By focusing on the agency of Indigenous potters, I aim to contribute to the growing body of Critical Indigenous Studies and advance anthropological dialogues around Eurocentric approaches in archaeology, normative interpretations, and socio-spatial relationships.