An Archaeology of Improvement in Rural Massachusetts: by Quentin Lewis

By Quentin Lewis

This booklet probes the materiality of development in early 19th century rural Massachusetts. development used to be a metaphor for human intervention within the dramatic adjustments happening to the English talking global within the 18th and 19th centuries as a part of a transition to business capitalism. The which means of development vacillated among principles of financial revenue and human betterment, yet in perform, development trusted a large assemblage of fabric issues and areas for coherence and enaction.

Utilizing archaeological info from the house of a prosperous farmer in rural Western Massachusetts, in addition to an research of early Republican agricultural guides, this booklet exhibits how Improvement’s dual meanings of revenue and betterment opened up erratically throughout early 19th century New England. the development move in Massachusetts emerged at a time of serious social instability, and served to ameliorate starting to be tensions among city and rural socioeconomic lifestyles via a explanation of area. along this explanation, development additionally served to reshape rural landscapes in accordance with the social and financial procedures of a modernizing international capitalism. however the contradictions inherent in such techniques spurred and buttressed wealth inequality, ecological misery, and social dislocation.

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249–253) 34 2 Improvement, Capitalism, and Landscape Change and the disintegration of feudal land rights and seeking a new start (Kulikoff 2000, pp. 40–41). Formerly common lands and waste-grounds were enclosed and privatized for mercantile agriculture, as early as the fourteenth century (Tarlow 2007, pp. 37–50). Enclosure involved the taking of land that had been used and managed by peasants and lords under custom and common-law, and transforming it into arable, plantable land. Such land included forests, grazing fields, and marshes in particular, which were harvested, fenced, drained, and otherwise transformed into spaces that could be farmed with crops, or turned into grazing lands for sheep and cattle, largely for commercial farming.

The debates between Binford and Bordes in the 1960s were in large part about the extent to which human spatiality might produce variable or contingent archaeological assemblages as a function of seasonal adaptive strategies, or whether such variability was a function of divergent kinship or cultural ties (Binford 1972; Bordes 1972). Regions or areas were thus subjects of archaeological scrutiny, as they might suggest information about cultural process, rather than simply Analyzing Space and Social Dynamics 25 cultural identification.

Woodruff, J. (2001). Lighthouse, incorporated: Re-examining the village of outcasts. MS on File at Department of Anthropology, Central Connecticut State University. , & Perry, W. R. (2007). How archaeology exposes the nature of African captivity and freedom in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Connecticut. Connecticut History, 45(2). Wurst, L. (1993). Living their own history: Class, agriculture and industry in a 19th century rural community. Dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton.

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