The Place of Interaction Studies in Archaeological Thought

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Publication Date

January 1992


The last several decades have witnessed a renaissance of archaeological concern with the effects of intersocietal interaction on processes of sociopolitical change. This interest is so pervasive that we see within it the development of a distinct interaction “paradigm” that is focused on the domain of sociopolitical change processes (cf. Schortman and Urban 1987). By paradigm we mean a coherent system of interrelated assumptions, unresolved questions, analytical units, and criteria for evaluating research results which focus and guide study (cf. Kaplan and Manners 1972; Kuhn 1970; Trigger 1989:22). Interaction studies, in turn, refers to research founded on the notion that individual societies, or “cultures,” are not viable but depend on inputs from other societies for survival and reproduction from generation to generation (e.g., Kohl 1987, 1989). The form, structure, and changes observed within any society cannot be understood without recourse to these extraregional inputs. Finally, the “domain of sociopolitical change” is concerned with shifts in power relations usually characterized by centralization, hierarchy building, and the incorporation of diverse ethnic and occupational units within a polity or, of course, the reverse (e.g., Tainter 1988:23–24).


Resources, Power, and Interregional Interaction

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