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The Archaeology of Colonial Encounters

Comparative Perspectives

Edited by Gil J. Stein

Colonialism and its legacies have emerged as one of the most important research topics in anthropology. Indeed, we now understand that colonialism gave rise to and shaped the discipline. However, the understanding of colonization in anthropology, history, and other fields derives largely from studies of European expansion. In this volume, ten archaeologists analyze the assumptions that have constrained previous studies of colonialism and demonstrate that colonization was common in early Old and New World state societies—an important strategy by which people gained access to critical resources.

2005. 464 pp., 35 black-and-white illustrations, 3 tables, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Susan Alcock, Terence N. D’Altroy, Michael Dietler, Janine Gasco, Kent G. Lightfoot, J. Daniel Rogers, Katharina Schreiber, Michael Spence, Gil J. Stein, Peter Van Dommelen

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“There is much interest in colonialism at the moment and thus a great need for this book…. [It] will be read with benefit by all those interested in archaeology and colonialism.”
—Dr. Chris Gosden, Pitt Rivers Museum Research Centre

“This volume is a valuable contribution to the study of ancient states and empires…. The focus upon colonies is particularly welcome since it moves beyond sterile typological debates.”
—Dr. Robert Preucel, University of Pennsylvania

“This volume is a timely contribution to the anthropological study of colonialism, and it would be an excellent addition to the syllabus of any class examining colonialism – in ancient or modern contexts.”
—Matthew Liebmann, Journal of Anthropological Research

“What is striking about The Archaeology of Colonial Encounters, and makes it very interesting for non-archaeologists, is the extent to which archaeologists are aware of the debates that are taking place in social and cultural anthropology and are prepared to engage in them.”
—Natacha Gagné, Reviews in Anthropology


  1. Introduction: The Comparative Archaeology of Colonial Encounters
    Gil J. Stein
  2. The Archaeology of Colonization and the Colonization of Archaeology: Theoretical Challenges from an Ancient Mediterranean Colonial Encounter
    Michael Dietler
  3. Spanish Colonialism and Processes of Social Change in Mesoamerica
    Janine Gasco
  4. Colonial Interactions and Hybrid Practices: Phoenician and Carthaginian Settlement in the Ancient Mediterranean
    Peter van Dommelen
  5. The Political Economy of Mesopotamian Colonial Encounters
    Gil J. Stein
  6. A Zapotec Diaspora Network in Classic-Period Central Mexico
    Michael W. Spence
  7. The Archaeology of Colonization: California in Cross-Cultural Perspective
    Kent G. Lightfoot
  8. Imperial Agendas and Local Agency: Wari Colonial Strategies
    Katharina Schreiber
  9. Remaking the Social Landscape: Colonization in the Inka Empire
    Terence N. D’Altroy
  10. Roman Colonies in the Eastern Empire: A Tale of Four Cities
    Susan E. Alcock
  11. Archaeology and the Interpretation of Colonial Encounters
    J. Daniel Rogers
There are no working papers for this book at the present time.