Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

David Landon

Second Advisor

Stephen Mrozowski

Third Advisor

Stephen Silliman


Historical archaeology has long held to theories of institutional confinement based on a Foucauldian understanding of power and confinement, with a focus on domination and resistance. This adherence to structuralist interpretations of social relations has led to a misunderstanding of the actual lived social reality of daily life in our study populations. This misunderstanding is also responsible for the misapplication of institutional confinement theory to New England almshouses, for which it is poorly suited. This thesis suggests applying a lens that examines place, community, memory, and daily social life at the Westport Town Farm, in order to re-center the anthropology of the past in our discussion of New England almshouses. Archaeological and archival evidence for landscape alterations, interpersonal relations, demographic information, and bodies of material culture are all supplied as evidence for the viability of this alternate approach to institutional confinement.


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