CAMPBELL HAIR PIPES AND COLONIAL ENTANGLEMENTS
Since the Spring of 2017, I have worked with a collection currently housed at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (PMAE) known as the "Campbell Wampum Factory" assemblage. Starting in the late 18th century, the Campbells were a second-generation Irish family living in what is now Park Ridge, NJ. They produced various styles of shell beads for sale to fur trade merchants. These styles included wampum but also the iconic "hair pipe," made from conch shells that were shipped from the Caribbean to New York as ballast. Fur trade companies distributed Campbell hair pipes to regions as far as the Upper Missouri, and their legacy today is best known from Plains-style Native American "breastplates."
My work here centers on the production of hair pipes, combining historical and archaeological data to reconstruct the sequence of production of Campbell shell hair-pipe beads using a portion of the assemblage excavated in 1924 by Carl F. Schonorf. I hope to accomplish four main tasks: 1) to assess 20th century cataloging and classification of the assemblage, 2) to compare historical descriptions to archaeological reconstructions of production sequences and determine whether archaeological data confirms, contradicts or complicates these narratives, 3) to determine if ideal “types” of final products exist according to quantitative metrics and assess their range of variability and degree of standardization, and finally 4) to put the Campbell site in the context of shell bead production in the Northeast and compare its assemblage to those of Dutch producers in the 18th century. Following hair pipes to their contexts of exchange and consumption is second part of this project, where hair pipes are best understood as an innovation in the use of a particular material culture type to sustain, form, and reify identities and relationships in the face of increasingly violent colonial dispossession through three spheres of embodied hair-pipe practice – personal adornment, ceremonial performance, and exchange.
CLASS AT THE MARGINS OF COLONIALISM:
ECONOMY AND IDENTITY IN ICELAND 1700-1900 CE
I am beginning to develop a project that asks how the liberalization of European trade transformed existing inequalities in Iceland. Specifically, did the dissolution of a Danish trade monopoly underpin socioeconomic hierarchies or undermine the existing order after 1786? As a marginal environment at the physical periphery of Europe, Iceland brings the transformative properties of colonialism and capitalism into sharp relief. After 1400, mercantile intersections brought novel forms of material culture to Iceland, motivating the production of export commodities such as cod and wool within a manorial political economy. In 1786, the Danish Crown dissolved a trade monopoly which had limited exchange with Danish citizens at regulated ports. The stated goal of the monopoly’s dissolution was to bring relief to the struggling rural countryside. During this time, the construction of class identities implicate dichotomies of colonial discourse. With this in mind, an archaeological study of imported commodities – or lack thereof – speak to economic conditions as well as personal subjectivities. Did liberalization of trade augment preexisting inequalities, both as economic realities (such as poverty and inequality) and as social relations? Or could new strategies of accumulation and modes of negotiating class identity rupture previous structures? To answer these questions, I hope to track when, where, and which imported commodities are found in elite and non-elite household assemblages and compare this to variables of wealth and farm productivity in the Hegranes region in northern Iceland.