Dr. Alexandra Conell’s dissertation, titled “Domestic Corporate Groups: An Ethnographic and Archaeological Examination of Households, Neighborhoods and Communities”, is an in-depth examination of ethnographic material on corporate group behavior analyzed with the goal of identifying variability in these groups—variability that archaeological interpretations may be missing.
Dr. Conell’s research began with a world-wide survey to identify the nature of variability and the key factors to examine further. She then analyzed ethnographic data on five cultural areas in North America, looking for cross-cultural differences and how the domestic corporate group may have changed over time in each area. She created a descriptive model of this variation and change and identified archaeological correlates, which were then applied to an archaeological case study. In doing so, Dr. Conell identified both variability in the nature of this group’s corporateness and change over time. Not only is this information of interest for her specific case study group, but insights from Dr. Conell’s research will contribute broadly to the archaeological study of corporate groups, allowing for more nuanced understandings of these groups and factors that contribute to their variability.
Throughout Dr. Conell’s graduate student career, her advisor, Dr. Jodie O’Gorman, was impressed with how she actively sought out diverse learning experiences. Her pursuit of one of these interests—geophysical surveying techniques—led her to serve as an assistant for a project in Oman under the direction of geologist Dr. Remke Van Dam. While writing her dissertation, Dr. Conell was an instructor at Alma College and an assistant at the MSU Archives, and she excavated every summer at Colonial Michilimackinac. She will pursue cultural resource management following the 2021 season at Michilimackinac.
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