Network histories of Southern Appalachia, AD 600-1600
Lulewicz, John Jacob
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This research explores the ways that social networks articulated with major sociopolitical transformations across Southern Appalachia between AD 600 and 1600. This study focuses on the broad, regional connections between members of Southern Appalachian societies and conceptualizes social networks as forms of social capital available to actors mediating shifting political landscapes. To do so, I use a database of over 350,000 ceramic artifacts and 300 radiocarbon dates (68 of which are newly reported here) to 1) evaluate the timing and tempo of sociopolitical change, 2) identify critical historical junctures in sociopolitical timelines, 3) and explore how the structures of regional social networks articulated with these timelines over a 1,000 year period. I argue that while two critical transitions occurred across Southern Appalachia, one at roughly AD 1150 characterized by the hierarchization of political structures, and one at roughly AD 1325 characterized by the collapse of a major socio-religious center, the social networks through which Southern Appalachian societies were constituted remained unaltered. I propose that regional patterns of kinship, exchange, and communality served to mediate critical social transformations that would otherwise have generated significant amounts of social uncertainty.