Alternative Pathways to Complexity focuses on the themes of architecture, economics, and power in the evolution of complex societies. Case studies from Mesoamerica, Asia, Africa, and Europe examine the relationship between political structures and economic configurations of ancient chiefdoms and states through a framework of comparative archaeology.
A group of highly distinguished scholars takes up important issues, theories, and methods stemming from the nascent body of research on comparative archaeology to showcase and apply important theories of households, power, and how the development of complex societies can be extended and refined. Drawing on the archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic records, the chapters in this volume contain critical investigations on the role of collective action, economics, and corporate cognitive codes in structuring complex societies.
Alternative Pathways to Complexity is an important addition to theoretical development and empirical research on Mesoamerica, the Old World, and cross-cultural studies. The theoretical implications addressed in the chapters will have broad appeal for scholars grappling with alternative pathways to complexity in other regions as well as those addressing diverse cross-cultural research.
Contributors: Sarah B. Barber, Cynthia L. Bedell, Christopher S. Beekman, Frances F. Berdan, Tim Earle, Carol R. Ember, Gary M. Feinman, Arthur A. Joyce, Stephen A. Kowalewski, Lisa J. LeCount, Linda M. Nicholas, Peter N. Peregrine, Peter Robertshaw, Barbara L. Stark, T. L. Thurston, Deborah Winslow, Rita Wright
Comparison is an indispensable intellectual operation that plays a crucial role in the formation of knowledge. Yet comparison often leads us to forego attention to nuance, detail, and context, perhaps leaving us bereft of an ethical obligation to take things correspondingly as they are. Examining the practice of comparison across the study of history, language, religion, and culture, distinguished scholar of religion Bruce Lincoln argues in Apples and Oranges for a comparatism of a more modest sort.
Lincoln presents critiques of recent attempts at grand comparison, and enlists numerous theoretical examples of how a more modest, cautious, and discriminating form of comparison might work and what it can accomplish. He does this through studies of shamans, werewolves, human sacrifices, apocalyptic prophecies, sacred kings, and surveys of materials as diverse and wide-ranging as Beowulf, Herodotus’s account of the Scythians, the Native American Ghost Dance, and the Spanish Civil War.
Ultimately, Lincoln argues that concentrating one's focus on a relatively small number of items that the researcher can compare closely, offering equal attention to relations of similarity and difference, not only grants dignity to all parties considered, it yields more reliable and more interesting—if less grandiose—results. Giving equal attention to the social, historical, and political contexts and subtexts of religious and literary texts also allows scholars not just to assess their content, but also to understand the forces, problems, and circumstances that motivated and shaped them.
In this bold new work of cultural criticism, Ann Cvetkovich develops a queer approach to trauma. She argues for the importance of recognizing—and archiving—accounts of trauma that belong as much to the ordinary and everyday as to the domain of catastrophe. An Archive of Feelings contends that the field of trauma studies, limited by too strict a division between the public and the private, has overlooked the experiences of women and queers. Rejecting the pathologizing understandings of trauma that permeate medical and clinical discourses on the subject, Cvetkovich develops instead a sex-positive approach missing even from most feminist work on trauma. She challenges the field to engage more fully with sexual trauma and the wide range of feelings in its vicinity, including those associated with butch-femme sex and aids activism and caretaking.
An Archive of Feelings brings together oral histories from lesbian activists involved in act up/New York; readings of literature by Dorothy Allison, Leslie Feinberg, Cherríe Moraga, and Shani Mootoo; videos by Jean Carlomusto and Pratibha Parmar; and performances by Lisa Kron, Carmelita Tropicana, and the bands Le Tigre and Tribe 8. Cvetkovich reveals how activism, performance, and literature give rise to public cultures that work through trauma and transform the conditions producing it. By looking closely at connections between sexuality, trauma, and the creation of lesbian public cultures, Cvetkovich makes those experiences that have been pushed to the peripheries of trauma culture the defining principles of a new construction of sexual trauma—one in which trauma catalyzes the creation of cultural archives and political communities.