An Archaeology of Capitalism: Exploring Ideology through Ceramics from the Fort Vancouver and Village Sites
Portland State University. Department of Anthropology
Michele R. Gamburd
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Wash.) -- Antiquities, Social archaeology -- Washington (State) -- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Capitalism -- Washington (State) -- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site -- History -- 19th century
1 online resource (ix, 141 pages)
The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), a mercantile venture that was founded by royal charter in 1670, conceived, constructed and ran Fort Vancouver as its economic center in the Pacific Northwest, a colonial outpost at the edge of the company's holdings in North America. Research into the history of the HBC revealed that the company was motivated by mercantile interests, and that Fort Vancouver operated under feudal land policies while steadily adopting a hierarchical structure.
Following the work of Marxist archaeologist Mark Leone whose work in Annapolis, Maryland explored the effects of capitalist ideology on archaeological assemblages of ceramics, this study sought to locate the material signatures of ideologies in the ceramic assemblages recovered from the Fort and its adjacent multi-ethnic Village sites. In Annapolis, matching sets of ceramics were used as a material indicator of the successful penetration of capitalist ideals of segmentation, division and standardization that accompanied the carefully cultivated ideology of individualism, into working class households.
Following this model, this study analyzed six assemblages for the presence of matched sets of ceramic tablewares using the diversity measures of richness and evenness. The results of this analysis for five assemblages from households in the Village were then compared to those expected for a model assemblage that was inferred to represent the ultimate model of participation in and dissemination of the same ideals of segmentation and division: that recovered from the Chief Factor's House within the fort.
Documentary research confirmed that ideology was used to indoctrinate workers into the unique relations of production at Fort Vancouver however it was an ideology of paternal allegiance to the company rather than one of possessive individualism, as in Annapolis. At Fort Vancouver the notion of individuality was subtly downplayed in favor of one that addressed the company's responsibility to its workers and encouraged them to view its hierarchy, which was reinforced spatially, socially and economically, as natural. Analysis of the archaeological assemblages revealed that it is unlikely that the Village assemblages are comprised of complete sets of matching ceramicwares. The lack of these sets is likely the result of the multivalent nature of the economic system at the fort and its distinct ideology of paternalism, as well as the diverse backgrounds and outlooks of the Village occupants themselves, who appear to have purchased and used these European ceramics in unique ways.
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Holschuh, Dana Lynn, "An Archaeology of Capitalism: Exploring Ideology through Ceramics from the Fort Vancouver and Village Sites" (2013). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 982.
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