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Understanding Cultural Change through the Vernacular: Creolization in Louisiana

Shannon Lee Dawdy
Historical Archaeology
Vol. 34, No. 3, Evidence of Creolization in the Consumer Goods of an Enslaved Bahamiam Family (2000), pp. 107-123
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25616836
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Understanding Cultural Change through the Vernacular: Creolization in Louisiana
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Abstract

A diachronic examination of the emic meanings of "creole" in Louisiana reveals a dynamic and complex social identity that is not easily dissected into the etic (or Anglo-American emic) categories of race, class, or ethnicity. In fact, outsider misconceptions about Louisiana creoles have been incorporated into recent anthropological definitions of creolization. This study explores the vernacular understandings of creole through three generational shifts in Louisiana spanning the early-18th through mid-19th centuries. A comparison of these vernacular definitions with the results of archaeological excavations at two creole sites in New Orleans helps define three types of creolization: transplantation, ethnic acculturation, and hybridization. These are transitions that occurred in the self-fashioning of Louisianans as expressed through their houses, gardens, clothes, food, and household goods. Adopting a native perspective exposes the roles that worldview and individual agency play in shaping processes of cultural change.

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