Gina Palefsky

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Merced, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9920

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Palefsky, Gina (California, Merced U. of) "Embodied Boundaries: A Bioarchaeological Approach to Foodways and Community Organization in Metal Age Central Thailand (c. 1100 BCE - CE 500)"

Community has been identified as one of the most meaningful contextual scales for understanding how social interactions shape the human experience. Bioarchaeological approaches are uniquely positioned to investigate how collective identities affected the lives of past peoples because multiple facets of social identity including age, sex, and biological kinship are grounded in the body, and traces of more ephemeral aspects of community identity such as dietary practices and residential histories are preserved in the chemical matrices of bones and teeth. This dissertation research analyzes mortuary populations from four archaeological sites in central Thailand to investigate how community organization changed in response to complex social processes of contact and immigration during the Metal Age (c. 1100 BCE – CE 500). This research approaches food as a locus of community through which social bonds, boundaries, and differences are formed. I ask whether the consumption of regionally-associated crops including rice, millet, and beans covaries with geographic residencies or various aspects of biological identities like age, sex, and biological relatedness. I aim to characterize changes in community organization in terms of immigration and biological relationships and assess how foodways may have united or divided Metal Age people across lines of biocultural identity.