Publications

In Press
Douglas J. Bolender and Eric D. Johnson. In Press. “Tenancy, Finance, and Access to Commercial Goods: Interpreting Impoverished Assemblages in Skagafjörður, Iceland, AD 1300–1900.” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.Abstract

Imported durable goods are relatively rare in non-elite Icelandic household assemblages, presenting a common difficulty for archaeologists studying impoverished assemblages. Test excavations of household middens across Skagafjörður, North Iceland allow for a comparison between elite (landowning seats of power) and non-elite (both owner-occupier and tenant) farms. Despite small sample sizes, the distribution of ceramic densities suggests: 1) an overall paucity in all time periods, 2) subtle inequalities between more and less productive farms, and 3) uneven but significant upticks in ceramic counts in the 19th century associated with a transition from tenant to owner-occupier households. The increase in ceramics is contrasted to the regional episcopal seat of Hólar, which yielded an abundance of medieval and early modern imports but does not show an increase in ceramics in the 19th century, concurrent with the sale of its landholdings in AD 1802. We argue this trend is consistent with a shifting, unequally distributed, regional surplus in Skagafjörður tied to changes in property status, suggesting the ways in which the financing of land ownership affects household archaeological assemblages.

In Preparation
Eric D. Johnson and Zoë Antoinette Eddy. In Preparation. “Transgressing Settler Capitalist and Indigenous Futurity: White-Owned Wampum Factories and Native Baby Yoda.” American Anthropologist.Abstract
Beads and beaded objects are a medium through which Native people(s) of North America shape sovereign Indigenous futures. At the same time, settlers conscript beads into capitalist futures, whether through commodity-market circulations, industrial production, or appropriations of land and labor. Here, we examine two case studies of bead-making and bead-working across archaeology and cultural anthropology through the lens of Indigenous futurity. Johnson reads a fictionalized account of the Campbell Wampum Factory, a white-owned workshop in New Jersey that mass produced shell beads for export to Indigenous consumers throughout the 19th century. Archival and archaeological data from the site complicate this fiction, illustrating the erasures, appropriations, and harms of shell-bead settler capitalism. Eddy, based on her fieldwork in New England pow-wow circles and with contemporary North American Indigenous beaders, examines beaders’ uses of Disney, specifically the Native Baby Yoda phenomenon, to propose a theory of "trickster transgression." Beyond simply challenging binaries of traditional/modern, past/present, colonizer/colonized, and authentic/inauthentic, these artists use their work to destabilize notions of settler-colonial ownership while simultaneously establishing nuanced Indigenous creative networks. Together, these cases suggest that despite settler occupation and capitalist monopolies over cultural production, the transgressions of Native beadwork expose the fragility of short-term settler futures while continually (re)making Indigenous futurity through rupture, play, and reinvention.
Submitted
Eric D. Johnson. Submitted. “Industrializing Shell Bead Production in Northern New Jersey: Reuniting Collections from Stoltz Farm (1770–1830) and the Campbell Wampum Factory (1850–1900).” Historical Archaeology.Abstract

By at least 1770, white settlers in northern New Jersey appropriated the production of Indigenous shell beads, including iconic styles of wampum and hair pipes. American officials used Jersey-made beads in tactics of dispossession (or “wampum diplomacy”) across the Midwest and Plains. Indigenous consumers, through exchanges with fur trade merchants, wove beads into projects of sovereignty, whether as wampum-belt land claims or the dress of delegations and counterinsurgents to American empire. Beadmaking was a regional cottage industry before 1850, after which the Campbell Wampum Factory monopolized production through water-powered grinding wheels, drilling machines, and the waged labor of people of color. Two sites—Stoltz Farm and the Campbell Factory—were excavated in the early 20th century but have not been systematically analyzed. Analysis of reunited collections reveals the erasures, appropriations, and harms of industrial shell bead production while complicating notions of white-settler industrial progress heralded by owners of the factory.

2019
Eric D. Johnson and Douglas Bolender. 2019. “Deeper Histories of Dispossession: The Genealogy of “Proletarian” Relations in Iceland.” Historical Archaeology, 53, 3, Pp. 559-574. Publisher's VersionAbstract
“Proletarian” relations are generally understood in terms of capitalist dispossession. However, a deeper historical approach to class relations in Iceland reveals fundamental role of monopolization and labor insecurity across capitalist and precapitalist political economies. During the first settlement of Iceland in the late 9th century, land was freely available to colonists, but by the late 17th century, over 95% of all farming properties were owned by landlords. Landlords and tenants frequently negotiated new leases, effectively creating a dispossessed, insecure, and mobile class of tenant farmers. Using the millennium-long history and archaeology of farmsteads in Skagafjörður, Northern Iceland, we then outline 1) how it is that these “proletarian” relations came about in the first place, 2) how they were maintained and 3) finally how Iceland’s “transition to capitalism” in the late-19th and early-20th centuries was less the creation of a uniquely proletarian class but rather a migration of long-dispossessed labor under new capital regimes.
2018
Douglas Bolender and Eric D. Johnson. 2018. “Reassembling the Household For Icelandic Archaeology: A Contribution to Comparative Political Economy.” Post-Medieval Archaeology, 52, 1, Pp. 65-83. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Between the 11th and 19th century, household archaeology in Iceland comprises rural, dispersed farmsteads notable for their boundedness and stability, suggesting productive and reproductive autonomy. Insights from ANT and entanglement theory help ‘disassemble’ this assumption by shifting our focus first to the agencies, flows and dependences that comprise a political economy without assuming the household’s relations of production a priori. Architecture, settlement patterns, landscape, and midden accumulations from the Langholt region in Skagafjörður, north Iceland along with historical data illustrate that households in Iceland are actually marked by social dissolution, alienation, and instability through dramatic political-economic dis-and-re-assembling which in turn produces the stability in the material manifestation of the household. These data caution against a simple relationship between the household and archaeological farmstead and suggest that measures of dependency and instability are critical to a comparative method for unraveling entanglements between capitalist and non-capitalist political economies.

2017
Moated Sites in the Wealden Landscape
Eric D. Johnson. 2017. “Moated Sites in the Wealden Landscape.” In Lived Experience in the Later Middle Ages: Studies of Bodiam and Other Elite Landscapes in South-Eastern England, Pp. 158-170. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This chapter looks at the general class of moated sites, of which Bodiam, Scotney and Ightham can be considered particularly large and complex examples, in the context of the Wealden landscape of south-east England as a whole. A general discussion of the literature on moated sites is followed by a discussion of ‘what do moats do?’ in terms of lived experience.

Scotney: Archaeological Survey and Map Analysis
Eric D. Johnson, Timothy Sly, and Matthew Johnson. 2017. “Scotney: Archaeological Survey and Map Analysis.” In Lived Experience in the Later Middle Ages: Studies of Bodiam and Other Elite Landscapes in South-Eastern England, Pp. 95-105. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This chapter focuses on the landscape of Scotney. Scotney is a late medieval castle close to Bodiam and built in the later 14th century. It also has a complex landscape, with water features, much of which survives within a 19th-century picturesque landscape park. The area of parkland south and west of the castle was surveyed by the Southampton/Northwestern team. This chapter reports on this work, and places the survey results in the context of wider evidence for the Scotney landscape in the later medieval period.
2015
Eric D. Johnson. 2015. “Moated Sites and the Production of Authority in the Eastern Weald of England.” Medieval Archaeology, 59, Pp. 233-254. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Previous interpretations of medieval moated sites, rooted in functionalist and culture-historical theoretical frameworks, describe moat owners as defending themselves from threats of physical violence or emulating a fashionable status symbol. This study takes an alternative framework by exploring moated sites' active role in producing medieval ideologies of inequality. A set of case studies from the eastern Weald in southeast England provides evidence for how moats alter patterns of movement, produce spaces of stratified accessibility, and enhance the visibility of structures and spaces bounded by moats. Spatial data from surface survey is synthesized with historical context and 'imagined' moated spaces found in pictorial and textual sources to determine how moats may have been perceived by different groups of people in medieval society. By altering the physical and symbolic landscape, moated sites constituted the authority of their owners and contributed to the maintenance, or in some cases contestation, of medieval structural inequalities.