Domesticating Imperialism: Sexual Politics and the Archaeology of Empire



ABSTRACT  The archaeology of empire is permeated by sexual narratives. This has been especially true of archaeological research on the Spanish Americas, where the material remains of colonial settlements have often been interpreted as products of a literal and figurative marriage between two cultures. However, investigating colonization as a consensual domestic arrangement has masked the ways in which imperial projects relied on the exercise of power, including sexual regulations and sexual coercion. Recent archaeological and ethnohistoric research at the Spanish-colonial military settlement of El Presidio de San Francisco affords a different perspective, one in which the public and institutional exercise of sexual control was central to the imperial project.