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“Cooking, Migration, and Social Change: Exploring Oneota and Mississippian Foodways in the Central Illinois River Valley” by Jeffery M. Painter

May 3, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Join us on Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 from 3:00-5:00 pm. as Jeffery M. Painter defends his dissertation proposal “Cooking, Migration, and Social Change: Exploring Oneota and Mississippian Foodways in the Central Illinois River Valley” in C103 McDonel Hall.


In this proposed dissertation, I seek to address biases and assumptions in how archaeologists have previously used foodways to explore post-migration social interactions. In recent decades, anthropologists have increasingly used a foodways approach to explore social interactions at destination areas, but while they share a similar approach, archaeologists often operationalize assumptions and biases socio-cultural researchers do not. Through these assumptions, expectations of how people will interact and adapt in such situations are generated. These expectations are then used as tools for identifying destination areas in the archaeological record, as well as for interpreting why social, material, and behavioral changes occurred. Left unexamined, these assumptions and biases weaken archaeological interpretations of the role of foodways within post-migration social interaction, as well as our ability to identify nodes of migration.

In order to address these issues, my research seeks to employ under-utilized analyses related to cooking, consumption, and their spatial contexts to improve our ability to understand post-migration interactions. To achieve this goal, I will examine ceramic use-alteration data, cooking feature location, and the presence or absence of strictly public food-related activities in order to analyze patterns and behaviors previously assumed by archaeologists. I will conduct these studies at Morton Village in west-central Illinois, a clear case of post-migration interaction between local Mississippians and migrant Oneota, as well as at two comparative sites, the Tremaine Complex in western Wisconsin and Larsen in west-central Illinois. These latter two sites are included to further understand the past cooking traditions of the migrant and local populations, which will assist in the detection of changes in foodways from pre- to post-migration. Once completed, this research will advance our understanding of the social and strategic importance of food in post-migration interactions and will foster renewed discussions on how to identify destination areas in the archaeological record.


C103 McDonel Hall

Michigan State University

East Lansing,

United States

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Department of Anthropology