Catherine M. Cameron—Weatherhead Resident Scholar

“Unwilling Migrants: Captives’ Contributions to Cultural Change”

Catherine M. CameronCatherine M. Cameron2010–2011 Weatherhead Resident ScholarCatherine M. Cameron2010–2011 Weatherhead Resident Scholar

“As archaeologists, we ask ‘How do cultures change and interact?’ For instance, how did a pottery design get from here to there? There’s trade, the exchange of goods. Sometimes there’s intermarriage or migration. Some point to elite interaction. But non-state societies were battling constantly, dragging people back and forth. I suggest that these captives were bringing pottery designs, and so much more, to the societies they joined. I want to illuminate the remarkable changes captives wrought in the societies they entered. I argue that captives, who were frequently women, brought into the society of their captors novel technologies, ideologies, and social behavior, transforming that society in the process. If we look at captives as a source or method of culture change, it would really make a difference.”

From the Interview...

“Some of the interesting things that have developed just in this year look at the ways that social boundaries are more clearly defined when you have captives joining a society. They become deviants, in a sense, so that their captors sort of define themselves in opposition to these people. I’m also looking at the kinds of social people that they become in captor society. They may be defined as abject slaves, they may become wives, or they may become some other intermediate social person.”

From the Cameron & Croucher Interview...

“Captives, mostly women and children, have been largely overlooked by archaeologists as a source of culture change.”—Catherine M. Cameron“SAR’s given us this opportunity to have time to develop our own projects and that’s just wonderful. But having these other scholars with similar interests—Sarah and I have similar interests in a number of ways—having someone else to bounce ideas off, to critique our work, these workshops have just been tremendously helpful. I’ve learned so much more about ways that I could take my own research, and I think one thing that’s helped me tremendously is a new theoretical framing that I’ve learned from Sarah and from some of the other scholars that has helped me improve what I’m doing and take it in new directions. I’ve written a different book than I would have without knowing all of the scholars here at SAR.”

Find out more about Catherine M. Cameron by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

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