Agency, Practical Politics and the Archaeology of Culture Contact

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I use this paper to intersect the trajectory of the agency concept in archaeology. On a theoretical front, I summarize briefly the state of ‘agency’ in archaeology and its deployment in theories of practice. This opens a space to introduce the concepts of practical politics and doxa, and I illustrate their effectiveness in addressing issues of social relations, power, identity and daily practice. I then pinpoint their particular applicability to colonial and culture-contact studies. On an empirical front, I turn the lenses of doxa and practical politics to a case study in nineteenth-century northern California. My focus is on Native American involvement in the Rancho Petaluma and the continuity of lithic practices in this secular colonial setting. I conclude that although lithic practices display a material continuity in technology, they are in fact part of a social change surrounding the politics of practice.


Published in the journal, Journal of Social Archaeology, by SAGE Publications. DOI: 10.1177/146960530100100203.


SAGE Publications