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xvii Prologue 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 Maya. Over and over I was asked the same questions: What was everyday life like in the past? What would life have been like for an ordinary person like me? The magnificent temples of ancient kings and queens overwhelm the observer in Belize today as they must also have done in the past. They remind viewers of the glorious pomp and circumstance of the ancient Maya past, but as glorious as this may have been, it does not illuminate how ancient people lived their daily lives. Although I had taken only one undergraduate Maya archaeology class at that time, I had been interested in archaeology and the great ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome since third grade, and I knew that the focus of traditional archaeological scholarship was on grand monuments rather than on everyday life. I was taken aback to realize that what many Belizeans wanted to know about their prehistory was not what the field of archaeology had defined as its focus. I decided that if I was going to work as a foreigner doing archaeology in a foreign country I wanted to do an archaeology that would be relevant for people there. This archaeology for people would make everyday life and ordinary people the focus of analysis. In this way, I felt that my intellectual pursuits in archaeology would be enhanced as my studies of ancient daily life would provide a meaningful history for people today. After receiving my undergraduate degree I joined the United States Peace Corps in Belize , in part to facilitate these goals by spending more time with Belizeans and learning what interested them about archaeology. But I also joined xviii · Prologue to enjoy my new friends and a country I came to love. I worked for two years as a volunteer in the government branch that oversees archaeological research in Belize. At that time it was called the Belize Department of Archaeology (DOA), but it has since been renamed the Institute of Archaeology (IA). Although I did not realize it then, this kind of engagement and collaboration with people beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries of Western archaeology was something that philosophers of science and feminist theorists were writing about as being significant for enhancing scientific research both conceptually and empirically (such as Smith 1987; Wylie 2008). I certainly observed this to be true over and over again in my own research. After completing my Peace Corps service, I started graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania to follow the pursuit of understanding everyday life in the past. Entering the archaeological field as a graduate student in the 1990s was an exciting time. There had been some significant developments in archaeological scholarship in the 1980s that were reaching fruition in the 1990s. In the Americas the fields of feminist and household archaeology were developing. These archaeologists were trying to focus more on ancient people, women and men, and the ordinary things they did in their daily lives and within their homes. I sought out Wendy Ashmore, a pioneer in the field of household archaeology, as my adviser at the University of Pennsylvania. In Europe, postprocessual archaeology was invigorating interest in people, actions, and meanings in the past. I was inspired by what I was learning in archaeology because it highlighted to me that the direction the field needed to go in was getting answers to all of those questions I was being asked in Belize. While in graduate school, I stumbled upon Michel de Certeau’s (1984) famous text The Practice of Everyday Life. Through his writing, seeing whom he cited and who cited him, I discovered that there was a rich social theoretical literature on everyday life. As I explored the works of the everyday life thinkers, I uncovered broad support for the kind of intellectual project that I wanted to pursue. In my case, I did not come to the study of everyday life out of a grand exploration in social theory. I came to the study of everyday life out of my experiences in the world, which led me to develop a perspective on society that embraced the importance of everyday life. Using everyday life to...


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