Patrica E. Rubertone
Professor of Anthropology and Departmental Graduate Supervisor:
Phone 2: 401-863-3251
Ph.D. S U New York-Binghamton 1979
I combine archaeology, history, and anthropology to study colonialism, landscapes, and cultural diversity and difference. My archaeological and historical studies in New England focus on colonial encounters between Indigenous peoples and Europeans, with an emphasis on tracing the lives and experiences of Native Americans in postcolonial contexts. I am currently doing research on Native American monuments that explores the relationship between commemoration and ideas about colonialist erasure, attempting to build connections between place-making, community histories and memories, and archaeology.
In the 1980s, I co-directed the excavation of a 17th-century Narragansett Indian burial ground in Rhode Island accidentally discovered during construction. My involvement developed into a long-term research commitment and collaborative partnership with the Narragansett Indians focused on interpreting the material record to illuminate the lived experiences of a Native people in ways that would challenge "common knowledge." The interpretive approach emphasized how material culture, both "Native" and "European," expressed identities that neither reflected acculturation, nor social hierarchies among the burials; but instead, represented the intersections of several dimensions of difference. The research used the holistic methods of historical anthropology to combine the archaeology with archival data and oral histories to construct a many-sided and more comprehensive, account of colonial experiences.
In the 1990s, I initiated an archaeological project at the site of Cocumscussoc aimed at examining a European frontier settlement and trading post located in Narragansett Indian Country, just a short distance from the burial ground. The research explored multi-ethnic archaeological history of the site, which was occupied by European colonists (and European Americans), African slaves, and Native Americans, and related changes in its cultural landscapes before, during, and after the 17th century. The archaeological materials from the site, which are curated at Brown through an agreement with the Cocumscussoc Association, serve as a study collection for students for learning skills in historic artifact identification and interpretation.
I am currently doing research on Native American monuments in New England that explores how memorials create, sustain, and erase history and cultural identity. The research uses a landscape and diachronic approach that situates public monuments in contexts of long-term and on-going histories of place and memorialization.
AN66 Who Owns the Past? (1st Year Seminar)
The seminar examines the role of "the past" in the present. Using case studies from the U.S. and other parts of the world, we will look at how different groups construct and use a tangible past for different reasons. Students will learn that "the past" is not only a subject of archaeological interest; but is also mobilized in nation building, shaped by global events, mythologized in ritual, glorified in commemoration, and consumed as entertainment. A combination of readings, films, and discussion will contribute to understanding these competing claims for possession of "the past" and their broader implications.
AN154 Indians, Colonists, and Africans in New England
Explores the colonial and capitalist transformation of New England's social and cultural landscapes. Using historical archaeology as critical evidence, the course examines myths about conquest, invisibility, and class/gender/race relations through the study of change and persistence in the daily lives of Native American, African, and European peoples.
AN158 Archaeology of Death
The course explores the study of death and burial from archaeology's unique comparative and long-term perspective. What insights does it provide about the human condition? How have human remains illuminated the lived experiences of people in the past? What do funerary objects reveal about beliefs and social relations? Gravestones and monuments about emotions and memory? In addition, the course also considers current challenges to the excavation and study graves.
AN160 Archaeological Field Methods
Organized as an in-semester "dig," the course provides students with hands-on training in archaeological field and laboratory techniques. Students work in teams to learn excavation principles, laboratory procedures, analytical methods, and other skills needed for the scientific recovery of archaeological remains and their interpretation. Instruction is integrated into an on-going historical archaeological research project in Rhode Island.
AN161 Material Culture
The course focuses on the study of material culture in historical archaeology. By combining theory with practice, it explores recent ideas about relationships between people and things and provides students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in studying and interpreting the material record. Students will learn how to identify and analyze particular classes of material culture and become familiar with interpretive approaches that illustrate the many ways in which the study of things can tell us about people's lives in the historical past.