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Title:Community as assemblage in the Late Cahokian hinterlands
Author(s):Benson, Erin Marie
Director of Research:Pauketat, Timothy R
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pauketat, Timothy R
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lucero, Lisa J; Ambrose, Stanley H; De Lucia, Kristin
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Eastern Woodlands
Abstract:This dissertation is a study of how community emerged and affected the decline of Cahokia, the largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico. Cahokia’s rapid rise (ca. 1050 CE) entailed the coalescence of community among a diverse population. This new community, which formed a Cahokian identity, was grounded in the material constituents of Cahokian and Mississippian life. Likewise, community was deeply embedded in the continued success, and eventual decline and abandonment, of Cahokia. I argue that after Cahokia’s Stirling phase (1100 – 1200 CE) florescence, Cahokian community became decentralized, destabilized, and increasingly heterogenous, beginning in the hinterlands of Greater Cahokia and intensifying up to Cahokia’s abandonment. In order to address Cahokian community, I employ a relational approach that decenters humans while focusing on broader assemblages of things, features, persons, and places. I emphasize the material properties and inherent qualities of artifacts and features, and importantly, I highlight how these things came together and were assembled at three late Mississippian sites, Rhea, Schoolhouse Branch, and Hook and Ladder. From these assemblages, which are always contextually defined, the relationships from which community emerged become apparent, as do the territorializing and deterritorializing processes affecting community across multiple scales. The three late Mississippian sites in this case study demonstrate the differing ways in which community assembled during the post-1200 CE era in Greater Cahokia. Rhea and Schoolhouse Branch offer Moorehead phase (1200 – 1300 CE) perspectives, while Hook and Ladder offers a rarer glimpse into Sand Prairie phase (1300 – 1400 CE) community. Both located in the uplands, Rhea, followed by Hook and Ladder, show the decentralization and deterritorializing processes of Cahokian community, which intensify over time. Schoolhouse Branch, located in the floodplain nearer to Cahokia, was part of a persisting Cahokia-centric community. The decentralization that began at the fringes spread over the course of the Moorehead and Sand Prairie phases, permeating the region, and was an important component of Cahokia’s decline.
Issue Date:2020-07-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Erin Marie Benson
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-10-07
Date Deposited:2020-08

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