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31 January 2021
Inhabiting Tropical Worlds
Habitation in the tropics, whether humid or arid, takes distinctive forms in terms of architectural techniques, ecological adaptations, and human-environment interactions. These practices profoundly define the economic, cultural and technological aspects of tropical societies. Whilst these characteristics have deep historical roots and environmental foundations, it has often proven challenging to detect, let alone reconstruct, traces of the interdependence of domestic life and land use in tropical archaeological contexts away from former urban centres. This is partly due to poor preservation and other taphonomy-related issues, but also inherently related to specific land-use strategies and other traditional lifestyles and a common analytical divide between ‘household archaeology’ and ‘landscape archaeology’. Such a situation is in stark contrast with the rich corpus of anthropological and ethnographic accounts that provide a kaleidoscope of domestic lives and land use practices in recent and contemporary tropical societies. Some recent archaeological investigations have, however, attempted to integrate evidence of domestic lives and land use practices in the tropical world and demonstrated that such integration holds great potential for understanding unique ecological settings and social evolution in ancient southeast Asia, Mesoamerica, Amazonia, Africa and across the Pacific. This emerging scholarship sheds great insights on the diverse paths to villages and urbanism, models of gardening and horticulture activities, and forms of domestic lives and land use strategies in these regions.
Contributors to this thematic issue are invited to examine old and new lines of evidence on the intersections of domestic lives and land use histories in tropical environments around the world, from excavation, bioarchaeological analysis, geoarchaeological survey, experimental archaeology, computational spatial analysis, and other analytical approaches. Detailed ethnoarchaeological studies of these kinds of intersections are also welcomed. Contributors are encouraged to engage critically with recent theories on archaeologies of the household and land use, ‘dwelling’, and landscape domestication processes, and to seek to integrate multiple lines of evidence and (re)define meanings and functions of ‘domestic space’ and ‘land use’ in the wider frameworks of social complexity and economic intensification in tropical worlds. Topics might include, but are not restricted to: taphonomy and site formation processes and how they affect archaeological records and interpretations, experimental archaeology, gardening and horticulture and their environmental and ecological settings, domestic space and ritual activities, architecture of tropical and subtropical houses and gardens, and how to inter-relate individual households and communities of households with wider tropical landscapes.
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Expected online publication date June 2021
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