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Title: Diffusionism in Archaeological Theory: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Contributor(s): Storey, Alice  (author); Jones, Terry L (author)
Publication Date: 2010
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Abstract: This volume deals with archaeological, linguistic, and biological evidence for contact between the Pacific islands and the Americas and thus relies heavily on migration, interaction, and direct cultural diffusion as explanatory variables. In the 1970s diffusion as a concept was generally marginalized by the "New Archaeology," which tried to distance itself from earlier types of explanation, particularly migration and diffusion. ... The purpose of this chapter is to present a brief history of archaeological thought on the principle of diffusion, particularly as it applies to the Pacific and the Americas. The work strives to set a tone for the volume by outlining the ways in which the concept came to be so heavily disfavored in the 1970s. In arguing that diffusion still has value as an explanatory principle, we also hope to separate ourselves from publications that employ diffusion in racist or ethnocentric frameworks in order to justify religious or political ideas of culture origins and change. In this chapter, we set out specifically to explore the definitions of diffusion and the history of diffusionist thought from the 19th century to the present, particularly as it relates to Polynesian and American archaeology. We then explore criteria that may be used to distinguish artefacts of diffusion in the archaeological record in order to develop a rigorous set of criteria to establish contacts in prehistory.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World, p. 7-24
Publisher: AltaMira Press
Place of Publication: California, United States of America
ISBN: 9780759120044
Field of Research (FOR): 210199 Archaeology not elsewhere classified
210106 Archaeology of New Guinea and Pacific Islands (excl New Zealand)
210103 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
950399 Heritage not elsewhere classified
950599 Understanding Past Societies not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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