Archaeology and the “Savage Slot”: Displacement and Emplacement in the Premodern World



Many attempts to understand the cultural impact of the forces of modernism, capitalism, and globalization have come to highlight contemporary cultural diversity at the expense of reifying a homogenized past of traditional, static societies. The “savage slot” still provides a convenient myth for characterizing small-scale communities before the advent of modernism—communities that experienced dramatic change only as they were pulled into the world system. Archaeological evidence from the southeastern United States challenges this stereotype, as Native American groups routinely migrated and continually redefined notions of “place” and “locality”—processes often treated as distinctly (post)modern. Such case studies emphasize the importance of working toward a deep historical anthropology that will continue to undermine stereotypes about the Other in the past as well as the present.