Rethinking the Archaeological Application of Iroquoian Kinship
Publication Type:Conference Paper
Kinship is the primary idiom through which social and political relationships are constructed and maintained in Northern Iroquoian societies. As such, it has often been invoked in explanations for organizational changes observed archaeologically. However, if overly generalized models of Iroquoian kinship are employed to explain the archaeological record we risk masking the variable and contingent nature of social relationships as they existed in practice. In this paper I discuss the historical construction of Iroquoian kinship by anthropologists and how archaeologists have applied the resulting models. I discuss how the terms matrilineage and clan have been used to describe household and village organization and offer alternative suggestions for how kinship-based relationships might be more productively employed (and not employed) in archaeological interpretations of Iroquoian society.