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Everyday Life Matters

Maya Farmers at Chan

Cynthia Robin

Publication Year: 2013

While the study of ancient civilizations has often focused on holy temples and royal tombs, a substantial part of the archaeological record remains hidden in the understudied day-to-day lives of artisans, farmers, hunters, and other ordinary people of the ancient world. The various chores of a person's daily life can be quite extraordinary and, even though they may seem trivial, such activities can have a powerful effect on society as a whole. Everyday Life Matters develops general methods and theories for studying everyday life applicable in archaeology, anthropology, and a wide range of disciplines.

In this groundbreaking work, Cynthia Robin examines the 2,000-year history (800 B.C.-A.D. 1200) of the ancient farming community of Chan in Belize, explaining why the average person should matter to archaeologists studying larger societal patterns. Robin argues that the impact of what is commonly perceived as habitual or quotidian can be substantial, and a study of a polity without regard to the citizenry is woefully incomplete. She also develops general methods and theories for studying everyday life applicable across a wide range of disciplines.

Refocusing attention from the Maya elite and offering critical analysis of daily life interwoven with larger anthropological theories, Robin engages us to consider the larger implications of the seemingly mundane and to rethink the constitution of human societies, everyday life, and ordinary people.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Cover

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p. 1-1

Everyday Life Matters

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pp. 2-3

Title

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p. 4-4

Copyright

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p. 5-5

Dedication

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pp. 6-7

Contents

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pp. vii-9

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-13

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book represents the culmination of a journey that began when I first entered the world of academic archaeology as an undergraduate and has continued across my career. In this time I have dedicated myself to studying the everyday lives of ordinary people and demonstrating their importance...

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Prologue

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pp. xvii-xx

In 1986, I went on my first archaeological dig in Belize, where I have worked ever since. Belizeans live among the ancient Maya ruins and are deeply connected to these places. When people found out that I was an archaeology student, they were always eager to talk with me about the ancient...

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1. Introduction: Understanding Everyday Life

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pp. 1-15

She woke up on a warm morning in AD 750. The Maya farming community of Chan was thriving, and more and more people were moving into the community. This meant clearing new land for agricultural fields. As her grandparents had taught her, and their grandparents had taught...

Part I. Theory and Method in Everyday Life

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pp. 17-39

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2. Social Theory and Everyday Life

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pp. 19-44

In recent years, studies of everyday life have become a central aspect of multidisciplinary social theoretical discussions (Gardiner 2000; Highmore 2002a, 2002b; Lüdtke 1995; Sheringham 2006). The aim of critical everyday life theorizing is not just to describe daily life but also to show...

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3. Archaeology and Everyday Life

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pp. 45-66

As seen in the social theoretical literature, there is no self-identified subfield of archaeology called “everyday life archaeology,” yet there are a number of subfields that have long explored aspects of past everyday lives. This chapter discusses and relates four of these: household archaeology...

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4. Methods for a Critical Archaeology of Everyday Life

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pp. 67-87

For Lefebvre, as with all of the everyday life theorists discussed in this book, everyday life cannot be understood at an abstract theoretical level. Theoretical insights must complement a deep commitment to furthering empirical studies. Given the goal of confronting academics with life,...

Part II. Everyday Life at Chan

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pp. 89-111

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5. Situating Chan

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pp. 91-115

Although this book is divided into two sections—the first being more “theoretical” and the second being more “empirical”—the two sections are not isolated entities. As critical everyday life scholarship argues, theoretical and empirical research are dependent upon one another. There is a...

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6. Everyday Life at Chan

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pp. 116-175

For two thousand years, farmers, crafts producers, diviners, and community leaders lived at Chan. In the previous chapter I use settlement survey data to open up questions about everyday life in the past that could be explored through horizontal (open area) excavations. Exploring Chan’s...

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7. Why Everyday Life at Chan Matters

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pp. 176-196

In chapter 6 I lay out what everyday life was like at Chan for its myriad residents. Understanding the technical and religious innovations, social and environmental sustainability, and political strategies developed by Chan’s residents across their daily lives illustrates the kinds of significant...

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8. Conclusion: Everyday Life Matters

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pp. 197-203

Standing on top of El Castillo, the central temple at Xunantunich, and looking four kilometers to the southeast, all one sees is a vast expanse of trees where the contemporary Belizean forest has reclaimed Chan (figure 8.1 upper). From this distant perspective the vibrant rain forest that covers...

Notes

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pp. 205-209

References

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pp. 211-234

Index

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pp. 235-243


E-ISBN-13: 9780813048567
E-ISBN-10: 0813048567
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044996

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 6 tables, 26 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2013