Voss 2008 - 37 Barbara L Voss Between the Household and the...

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37 Historical Archaeology, 2008 , 42(3):37–52. Permission to reprint required. Barbara L. Voss Between the Household and the World System: Social Collectivity and Community Agency in Overseas Chinese Archaeology ABSTRACT At the Market Street Chinatown in San Jose, California, resi- dential arrangements were profoundly shaped by institutionalized racism, anti-Chinese violence, labor practices, and immigra- tion policies. These, in turn, shaped the form and content of the archaeological record. As is typical of many Overseas Chinese sites, archaeological features cannot be associated with specifc households—in Fact, the “household” concept is not always pertinent. A contextual, multiscalar approach to research on this residential community highlights other forms of social collectivity, such as district associations and business consortiums, that were able to act meaningfully to promote community survival and well-being. The archaeology oF Overseas Chinese communities has a signifcant contribu - tion to make to archaeological method and theory by opening new pathways oF inquiry into the “middle scale” between the individual or household and the world system. Introduction Increasingly, the “household” has become the primary unit of analysis in historical archaeol- ogy, especially in studies of 19th- and early- 20th-century residential sites. The household is generally taken as the most fundamental locus of social life: the place where social identi- ties are formulated, negotiated, and expressed through practices of consumption and, occasion- ally, production. This focus on the household is especially prevalent in archaeological research that is undertaken to comply with historic pres- ervation law. Residential archaeological deposits or features are frequently evaluated as legally significant or insignificant, depending on the degree to which they can be securely associated with an historically documented household. Archaeological sites associated with historic Overseas Chinese communities typically lack features or deposits that can be associated with individual households. In fact, documentary and archaeological evidence of one historic commu- nity—the Market Street Chinatown in San Jose, CaliFornia (±igure 1)—raises serious questions about the extent to which the term household is an appropriate concept at all. At Market Street, as in many other historic Chinese communities, residential arrangements were shaped by institu- tionalized discrimination, racial violence, labor practices, economic relations, and culturally specifc strategies that Chinese immigrants used to promote their survival and well being. Con- sequently, residential arrangements at the Market Street Chinatown were very different from those found in contemporary non-Chinese neighbor- hoods, and these diFFerences are re²ected in the archaeological record of the community. The archaeology of Overseas Chinese com-
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This note was uploaded on 02/14/2011 for the course ANTHRO 2/AC taught by Professor Wilkes during the Spring '09 term at Berkeley.

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Voss 2008 - 37 Barbara L Voss Between the Household and the...

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