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Autumn Painter Dissertation Proposal Defense

March 26 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Coalescence and Animal Exploitation: Examining Community Building at the Multi-Ethnic Morton Village Site

Abstract: The study of population movement has become a popular area of research within archaeology over the past several decades. As detecting and understanding the movement of individuals within the archaeological record is difficult, most archaeological research in this area has focused on a larger scale of analysis: group migration. While group migration can lead to many outcomes, one such result is coalescence, another area of study that has garnered increased attention recently. However, research on coalescent communities has tended to take place on a broad scale, such as looking at the built environment and social institutions, while focusing less on day-to-day interactions. While these broader patterns are critical to examine, the daily interaction and negotiation of community is also important, as social relationships are formed through daily practice, which can assist in the creation of shared affiliations and experiences. One aspect of this day-to-day interaction that has been under-investigated is animal exploitation.

This proposed dissertation will seek to expand anthropological understandings of how animal exploitation intersects with the broader process of coalescence. It will specifically approach the context of coalescent communities by looking at social interactions and community building through the broad theoretical framework of foodways.

To achieve this goal, I will use traditional and innovative zooarchaeological methods within a framework of coalescence and foodways to identify and interpret animal remains in a variety of contexts at Morton Village, a multi-ethnic, post-migration habitation site in the central Illinois River valley. This dissertation will contain three main research topics related to Morton Village that will result in three articles, as well as introduction and conclusion chapters. The first research topic focuses on the idea of intensification of production as a part of the process of coalescence. The second research topic will look at the way food and animal products within ritual activities are used as a part of community building at Morton Village. The third and final research topic will look at foodsharing practices at Morton Village, as sharing food can be an integral part of creating social bonds during everyday life. This research topic’s analysis will be accomplished using traditional zooarchaeological pair-matching methods, as well as the application of aDNA analysis in a manner that has never been used before.

This dissertation research will help archaeologists and anthropologists to advance our understandings of coalescence and to assess any past assumptions regarding what types of resultant animal exploitation practices took place. Continuing to advance our knowledge of the process of coalescence will assist in our ability as anthropologists to contribute to modern day discussions of multiculturalism and immigration issues.


This dissertation proposal defense will be held through video conferencing. If you would like to participate in the defense, please contact Autumn Painter (apainter@msu.edu) for video meeting details.


March 26
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Video Conference


Department of Anthropology