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Page Title - projects
Phase 1: Cultural innovation and transmission: Project 038
Scales of Cultural Cohesion on the NW Pacific Coast
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Peter Jordan (Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen )
with Tom Mace

The North American North West Coast is an area of exceptional cultural and linguistic diversity, well-documented in the ethno-historic record. In the context of significant local variations in subsistence practices, interaction patterns, local kinship structures and general historical trajectories we have undertaken quantitative analyses of the degrees to which different craft traditions (boat building, housing, basketry and so on) have been reproduced locally, or exchanged and blended between adjacent communities speaking similar or unrelated languages. To date, the project has:

• Pilot-tested quantitative “host-parasite” methods from biogeography on initial NWC cultural datasets, in order to develop a method for identifying the extent to which (a) culture-historical lineages form, and (b), the degree to which they track one another with various degrees of fidelity through deep time (See: Jordan, P. and Mace, T. in press).

• Attempted to link observed patterns of cultural diversity among Salish-speaking communities along the southern section of the NWC with recorded patterns of social interaction, kinship and subsistence (see forthcoming: Jordan, P. and Mace, T. (submitted). Isolation, Interaction and Exchange: Cultural Transmission Amongst NW Coast Salish-Speaking Communities. To appear in: Stark, M, Bowser, B and Horne, L. (eds) "Breaking Down Boundaries: Anthropological Approaches to Cultural Transmission". Edited volume from American Anthropological Association Meeting in Chicago, 2003.

This project now needs further development via work on museum collections and the wider ethno-historic literature in order to generate high-resolution datasets. Analysis of this material will extend insights into general level issues at the heart of anthropology and archaeology – the relationships between micro and macro processes, the role of learning, kinship, adaptation and interaction, and the way these both promote and constrain different processes and patterns and cultural diversity.

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Jordan, P. and Mace, T (2005).
Tracking Culture-Historical Lineages: Can Descent with Modification be linked with Association by Descent . In: Lipo, C.P., M.J. O'Brien, M. Collard & S.J. Shennan (eds.) (ed\s) Mapping Our Ancestors: Phylogenetic Methods in Anthropology and Prehistory. Aldine Transaction: Hawthorne, NY. 149-168.