Hunter-Gatherer Theory in North American Archaeology

Kenneth E. Sassaman and Asa R. Randall

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Hunter-Gatherer Theory in North American Archaeology

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  • Archaeology of North America



This article reviews briefly the contours of theories applied now and in the recent past to the study of hunter-gatherers in North America. It begins with what have been arguably the dominant theories of the past 50 years, namely those that can be glossed as “ecological” approaches, and then reviews alternatives to ecological theory which bend interpretation toward social reproduction, symbolic action, and the generative nature of culture. The article emphasizes here that these are not mutually exclusive bodies of theory, as some recent efforts to historicize ecological perspectives verge on the humanistic approaches of alternative theory.

Keywords: hunter-gatherer; North American archaeology; archaeological theories; ecological theory; social reproduction; symbolic action

Article.  4008 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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