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White Ethnogenesis and Gradual Capitalism: Perspectives from Colonial Archaeological Sites in the Chesapeake

Alison Bell
American Anthropologist
Vol. 107, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp. 446-460
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3567029
Page Count: 15
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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.
White Ethnogenesis and Gradual Capitalism: Perspectives from Colonial Archaeological Sites in the Chesapeake
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Abstract

The piecemeal development of capitalist socioeconomic systems in the colonial Chesapeake was deeply intertwined with projects of white ethnogenesis. Crafting a sense of "groupness" along lines perceived as racial required free "whites" to remain economically and socially interdependent. A variety of strategies and material forms--including reciprocal exchanges, hall-parlor house plans, and earthfast construction--facilitated this cohesion. Such integrative tactics coexisted in colonists' behavioral repertoires with more "capitalistic" strategies that prioritized private profit over social obligation. Colonists' deployment of diverse social strategies reflects a complex calculus assessing the benefits of economic autonomy against the benefits of ethnic ("white") solidarity. These dynamics can be illustrated through an 18th-century archaeological site at Flowerdew Hundred in the Chesapeake.

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