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Studies in Culture Contact

Studies in Culture Contact

Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology

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Edited by James G. Cusick


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
53 illustrations


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About the Book

People have long been fascinated about times in human history when different cultures and societies first came into contact with each other, how they reacted to that contact, and why it sometimes occurred peacefully and at other times was violent or catastrophic.

Studies in Culture Contact: Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology, edited by James G. Cusick,seeks to define the role of culture contact in human history, to identify issues in the study of culture contact in archaeology, and to provide a critical overview of the major theoretical approaches to the study of culture and contact.

In this collection of essays, anthropologists and archaeologists working in Europe and the Americas consider three forms of culture contact—colonization, cultural entanglement, and symmetrical exchange. Part I provides a critical overview of  theoretical approaches to the study of culture contact, offering assessments of older concepts in anthropology, such as acculturation, as well as more recently formed concepts, including world systems and center-periphery models of contact. Part II contains eleven case studies of specific contact situations and their relationships to the archaeological record, with times and places as varied as pre- and post-Hispanic Mexico, Iron Age France, Jamaican sugar plantations, European provinces in the Roman Empire, and the missions of Spanish Florida.

Studies in Culture Contact provides an extensive review of the history of culture contact in anthropological studies and develops a broad framework for studying culture contact’s role, moving beyond a simple formulation of contact and change to a more complex understanding of the amalgam of change and continuity in contact situations.


James G. Cusick is the curator of the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History at the University of Florida and the author of The Other War of 1812: The Patriot War and the American Invasion of Spanish East Florida. He has published essays in Historical Archaeology and serves on the board of the Florida Historical Society.

Contributors include Rani T. Alexander, Douglas V. Armstrong, Kathleen Deagan, Christopher DeCorse, Michael Dietler, Susan Toby Evans, Jonathan D. Hill, Joel W. Palka, Ann F. Ramenofsky, Prudence M. Rice, Rebecca Saunders, Edward M. Schortman, Robert L. Schuyler, Theresa A. Singleton, Stuart Tyson Smith, Gil J. Stein, John Edward Terrell, Patricia A. Urban, Mark J. Wagner, and Peter S. Wells.


“The collection presents a useful compendium of recent scholarship on culture contact studies in archaeology. Its broad coverage is its major strength and one that makes it a welcome addition to the literature on culture contact. Intended as a primer, the volume more than fulfills its goal.”—Patricia E. Rubertone, American Anthropologist, March 2000, Vol. 102, No. 1

“[This book] span[s] an impressive temporal and geographical spread. This diversity allows an especially rich perspective on the archaeology of contact…. This compendium integrates much of the current thought on culture contact. Perhaps more importantly, it opens a discourse between prehistorians and historical archaeologists; we must transcend this artificial boundary in our profession if we hope to understand this very crucial process of culture contact.”—Susan Dublin, Historical Archaeology, 1999

“This volume provides a valuable overview of both contemporary Old- and New-World culture contact studies, competing points of view on world systems models, and an extensive review of the history of anthropological studies of culture contact.”—David F. Mora-Marin, Latin American Antiquity, 2000, Vol. 11, No. 2