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Dissertation Defense, Andrew Upton, “Multilayer Network Relationships and Culture Contact in Mississippian West-Central Illinois, A.D. 1200-1450”

April 29 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Multilayer Network Relationships and Culture Contact in Mississippian West-Central Illinois, A.D. 1200-1450

Andrew Upton

This dissertation explores the impact of migration on structure and change in human social networks. In particular, I address the role of ceramic industry in the transformation of communal-scale interaction and identification networks through culture contact across the middle to late Mississippian transition in the Late Prehistoric central Illinois River valley (ca. 1200 – 1450 A.D.).

In this study, I draw on a body of contemporary social theory focused on parsing social structure across multiple types of interrelationships to investigate how both indigenous societies and migrant peoples approach intercultural social and economic relations. This theoretical framework posits that specific types of relationships act as sensitive features in explanations of group contact, continuity, or change, but that understanding of the entire social system is only approachable through analysis of how individual network layers influence and co-construct each other. Building on a recent formalism, I refer to the superpositioning of individual network layers as a multilayer social network. Through multilayer network analysis, expectations are offered that seek to characterize communal behavioral strategies in the negotiation of a multicultural social and economic environment following cultural contact. This dissertation thus offers theoretical and methodological means to investigate social settings in which disparate material culture traditions coexist or intermix in time and space through the comparative modeling of various networks of relationships that connect individuals and communities.

Ceramic industry is parsed into three relational dimensions in this study: A model for assessing social interaction via the cultural transmission of ceramic artifact attributes is applied to a database representing technological characterizations of over 1,300 vessels. Networks of social identification are modeled from a database of stylistic designs incised or trailed onto the outflaring rim of over 490 plates primarily used in the serving of food. Finally, networks of economic interactions related to ceramic industry are modeled through the compositional analysis of over 580 ceramic vessels.

Based on a comparative analysis of the structure of multiple network layers, I hypothesize that Oneota in-migration into the Mississippian central Illinois River valley resulted in a period of accommodative intercultural communal coexistence at the macro-regional scale. In social settings following culture contact characterized by accommodative coexistence, relational transaction costs are relatively moderate to low but heterogeneous or exclusive categorial identities delimit the extent of collective action or social movements. A breakdown of economic relationships and reduction in the social scale of shared categorical identities among communities are argued to be clear inflection points in delimiting social transformations to sub- groups of networks that did share common categorical and relational identities, identities that may have cross-cut cultural boundaries.



April 29
11:00 am - 1:00 pm


121 Baker Hall