by Kay McKenna & Helen Pearson
These are just a few bioarchaeoligcal evidences of the persistence of ideologies and norms during colonization. For as many instances of persistence, there are probably as many or more examples of cultures that lose their identities through colonization. It was the intention of this paper to show the possibility that exists of maintaining ideologies amidst colonization. This paper provides evidence of each of the Stojanowski and Duncan’s areas of bioarchaeologly: Social Sciences, Humanistic and Natural Science (Stojanowski and Duncan, 2015).
From the social sciences perspective of identity, we found that in most cases there was a choice in the cranial modifications. In only one example was there known forced coercion, the Spanish colonization of the Colca Valley. In the Tiwanaku, a non military state known for using trade to establish relationships, there was volunteer change. It may have been out of self preservation that the peoples of the Steppe grassland chose to change their head shapes despite the colonization under which they were living. In all of these examples there were some people who chose to keep true to their traditional ethnic heritage. Others may have been breaking ground for a new ethnic identity. These cases of cranial modification have given us a small glimpse into a few ancient ways of manifesting identity and the persistence of certain identities throughout periods of colonization.
These cases of cranial modification have given us a small glimpse into a few ancient ways of manifesting identity and the persistence of certain identities throughout periods of colonization.
When examining the persistence of ideologies and norms in the context of colonialism from a humanistic perspective, we found that the relationships between imperial colonizers and native peoples were complex and varied. The experiences of individuals in colonial Belize, the Atecameno oases, and the highlands of Peru reflected the complexities within the relations between foreign powers and local traditions.
By utilizing the natural science perspective, the persistence of ideologies, in this case diet, is clearly articulated by the osteological health of the indigenous that shows a change in overall health and nutrition during the period of intensive colonization. By looking at the changes in the presence of maladies correlated with systemic stress, historical accounts, and isotopic analysis we can see the impact the colonizers, especially the Spanish, on the overall health and nutrition levels of subjugated indigenous peoples.
Colonialism is a process in which native ideologies are challenged and, in some cases, outlawed by imperial colonial culture. It would be easy to assume that when an indigenous culture is colonized that the social, political, and religious ideologies of that indigenous culture are subsequently wiped out within the first few generations of contact. We found this to be untrue. There are examples of resistance to colonizers and of indigenous cultures having a reverse impact upon those doing the colonizing, all within skeletal remains from the period of contact. The ideologies of indigenous cultures persisted in means such as diet, burial patterns, religious syncretism, and body modifications, at least in some percentage. Little to no indigenous traditions remained entirely unchanged during a period of colonization, but there are examples of some persistence throughout.
Evidence in skeletal remains signifies a choice to continue or adopt cultural norms.
The persistence of ideologies and norms may be highly visible, such as cranial modifications, or microscopic on the cellular level. But no matter the size, the evidences in skeletal remains signifies a choice to continue or adopt cultural norms. Bioarchaeology, through its three approaches is helping to exhibit identities of past cultures not previously considered.
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