Under the supervision of Dr. Judith Habicht-Mauche, Sarah Ginn will analyze locally produced ceramics from California manufactured during the Mission Period (1769-1834). Colonial California was a place where Spaniards, criollos, mestizos, mullatos, Mexican Indians, and Baja California Indians interacted with California's very diverse group of indigenous peoples. Previous studies have argued that California's indigenous peoples were either acculturated into Spanish life ways or resisted Spanish life ways through the static maintenance of indigenous culture. These models assume culture contact occurred exclusively between homogeneous groups of European and Indigenous peoples and exclude discussion of other sorts of culture contacts such as those among California Indians and Mexican Indian settlers. This research will archaeologically test the hypothesis that indigenous identity in colonial California was heterogeneous and structured more by the ways in which it cross-cut boundaries of Spanis and Nativ rather than solely by a Native acceptance of or resistance to Spanis culture.
Locally produced ceramics offer a unique window through which the articulation of ethnically diverse peoples can be discussed as a process of interaction. Missionware pottery is a utilitarian earthenware produced in this frontier region during the California Mission Period. All actors participating in California colonial life had unconscious and overt cultural rules concerning how vessels, be they pots or baskets, were to be stylistically produced. These multiple technological styles influenced the production of Missionwares in California in ways that have social significance. It is hypothesized that formal, patterned variations exist in the way in which people of colonial California made Missionwares. Actors participating in the practices of different social communities create such patterning. This research will examine the ways these communities produced, reproduced, and cross-cut the multiethnic traditions of colonial California's native peoples and colonists. Such data will be useful in understanding how these actors constructed identities in relationship to those communities of practice.
The intellectual merit of this project extends beyond the boundaries of this single region. Unrefined earthenwares are uncovered at most New World sites of culture contact from Florida to Peru. It is the goal of this research to introduce a creative methodology to the diverse group of researchers who encounter this ubiquitous ceramic ware across sites of culture contact.
This research has broader impacts within modern indigenous communities. It has the potential to reconstruct complex interactions among historic California groups and inform on issues such as ethnogenesis and group identity. Results of this project will be communicated to the scientific community through presentations at various scientific societies and submitted for publication in peer-reviewed anthropological journals. Furthermore, both the junior PI as well as undergraduate assistants from UC Santa Cruz will receive training in methods of ceramic analysis.