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Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer

Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer: Walter W. Taylor and Dissension in American Archaeology

Allan L. Maca
Jonathan E. Reyman
William J. Folan
FOREWORD BY Linda S. Cordell
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 488
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  • Book Info
    Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer
    Book Description:

    "This is a fascinating book about a complex person...Taylor is claimed by the contributors to this new book as ancestor to both processual and postprocessual archaeologies...It thus remains possible to read him in different ways, as is well brought out by the diverse contributions to this volume, which is the first to provide a thorough and informed account that contextualizes Taylor's work and habilitates him within later and contemporary currents in archaeology...Throughout Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer and especially at the end, the twists and turns, the refractions never stop...The editors are to be congratulated for not trying to tidy him up..." -Ian Hodder, Current Anthropology In his 1948 work A Study of Archaeology, recently minted Harvard Ph.D. Walter W. Taylor delivered the strongest and most substantial critique of American archaeology ever published. He created many enemies with his dissection of the research programs of America's leading scholars, who took it as a personal affront. Taylor subsequently saw his ideas co-opted, his research pushed to the margins, and his students punished. Publicly humiliated at the 1985 Society for American Archaeology meeting, he suffered ridicule until his death in 1997. Nearly everyone in the archaeological community read Taylor's book at the time, and despite the negative reaction, many were influenced by it. Few young scholars dared to directly engage and build on his "conjunctive approach," yet his suggested methods nevertheless began to be adopted and countless present-day authors highlight his impact on the 1960s formation of the "New Archaeology." In Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer, peers, colleagues, and former students offer a critical consideration of Taylor's influence and legacy. Neither a festschrift nor a mere analysis of his work, the book presents an array of voices exploring Taylor and his influence, sociologically and intellectually, as well as the culture of American archaeology in the second half of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-078-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xx)
    Linda S. Cordell

    The contributors to Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer: Walter W. Taylor and Dissension in American Archaeology explore Taylor’s life and work in archaeology. This is not a festschrift volume. Festschrifts are often thematically disparate statements by former students and colleagues. This book focuses on Taylor as a teacher and colleague and reviews his substantive research in the archaeology of the American Southwest and Mesoamerica. Most important, the chapters herein explore Taylor’s detailed critique of Americanist archaeology (research undertaken by archaeologists trained in America, wherever they may work) and his formulation of what he called the “conjunctive approach,” which offered direction for...

  6. Preface, Acknowledgments, and Chapter Summaries
    (pp. xxi-xxxii)
    Allan L. Maca, Jonathan E. Reyman and William J. Folan

    • CHAPTER ONE THEN AND NOW: W. W. Taylor and American Archaeology
      (pp. 3-56)
      Allan L. Maca

      American archaeology was formally launched in 1935 with the creation of the Society for American Archaeology and its flagship journal, American Antiquity. Dissatisfaction with the status quo, however, was already in the air and grew significantly in the 1930s (e.g., Strong 1936; Steward and Setzler 1938). Then in 1940, Clyde Kluckhohn, a professor of anthropology at Harvard, raised the commentary to an assault level: he published a short, sharp critique of Mesoamerican—particularly Maya—archaeology, exposing the shortcomings of one of the more prestigious research programs in Americanist archaeology (Kluckhohn 1940). A few years later, Kluckhohn’s friend and student, Walter...

    • CHAPTER TWO WALTER WILLARD TAYLOR JR.: A Biographical Sketch and Bibliography
      (pp. 57-72)
      Jonathan E. Reyman

      Walter Willard Taylor Jr. was born to Walter Sr. and Marjorie Wells Taylor in Chicago, Illinois, on October 17, 1913, amidst a three-day spell of unseasonably warm weather.¹ Record high temperatures were set on both October 17 (86°F) and 18 (87°F). Those who would look for omens or portents in the weather at the time of Taylor’s birth might view these high temperatures as indicators of the heat to come following the 1948 publication of A Study of Archeology. But on October 17, the howls of distress came only from Walter Jr., perhaps not unlike the reactions from those he...

    • CHAPTER THREE NO MAN IS AN ISLAND: The Scholarship of Walter W. Taylor
      (pp. 73-100)
      Brenda V. Kennedy

      When I began this essay as a graduate student project in 1984, I knew little about the history of “American archaeology”¹ and nothing about the life and work of Walter W. Taylor. Hence, the task of assessing the significance of Taylor’s theoretical and methodological contributions to the discipline has not been an easy one. The final product of my research is essentially a biographical narrative. The data on Taylor’s life are drawn largely from a reply he made to my request for a copy of his curriculum vitae. Noting the limitations of his curriculum vitae “as to the context(s), motivations...


    • CHAPTER FOUR WALTER TAYLOR: POW, Professor, and Colleague
      (pp. 103-118)
      Philip J.C. Dark

      This chapter addresses Walter Taylor’s experiences during World War II and provides some insight to his life during the short period he was a prisoner of war and to his interests in anthropology. It was in this period that we first met and subsequently developed a close relationship. I discuss this relationship as it extended to my family and also included a period of interaction as colleagues at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

      There is a problem when casting one’s mind back to past events, happenings, ideas, and so on and, as an anthropologist, one must always be aware that...

      (pp. 119-122)
      J. Charles Kelley

      I went to Southern Illinois University in 1950 as Professor of Anthropology, within the Department of Sociology, and as Director of the University Museum. At that time I was charged with the development of a first-rate regional museum and a program of research in archaeology and related studies in cultural anthropology and the building of an undergraduate program in anthropology. It was realized that the latter endeavor would require several years for implementation, but I was promised that when this program was sufficiently developed with an adequate faculty, a separate Department of Anthropology would be created.

      In the summer of...

      (pp. 123-126)
      Carroll L. Riley

      As best I remember, I first became acquainted with Walter Taylor in May 1958, during a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Norman, Oklahoma. J. Charles Kelley, director of the Southern Illinois University Museum and acting chair of the newly created Department of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University, had previously approached Taylor and offered him the position of departmental chair, an offer that Taylor eventually accepted. Wanting to take a closer look at his new home to be, Taylor returned to Carbondale with me and two other departmental members who had attended the meeting.

      I had come to...


      (pp. 129-140)
      R. Berle Clay

      Although I cannot speak for his generation of archaeologists, for later ones like mine, Walt Taylor has been almost an enigma in spite of his bold statements in A Study of Archeology (1948). He was not an easy person to get to know, nor was he one especially eager to talk shop or to advance the ideas he developed in the early 1940s, either in class or out. In the following I try by reminiscence to pull out from the man another view of some of his ideas, because those few of us who were his doctoral advisees probably shared...

      (pp. 141-148)
      James Schoenwetter

      When the editors of this volume requested a contribution from me, my initial response was to refuse. After all, why speak ill of the dead? But they convinced me that as the first of Walter Taylor’s students to complete a doctorate under his guidance, my memories of that time and our relationship would be of interest. Although our relationship can only charitably be characterized as rocky, I finally acceded to their request. Colleagues of that era, Drs. Gabriel DeCicco, Mathew Hill, Robert J. Salzer, and Phil C. Weigand, will not be surprised that my late wife, Miriam—surely one of...

    • CHAPTER NINE WALTER W. TAYLOR: Prophet, Pariah, and Pioneer
      (pp. 149-168)
      William J. Folan

      It is seldom that one writes a Ph.D. dissertation only to spend the rest of his or her life striving to live up to its expectations. Such, however, was the case of Walter W. Taylor, who, in my mind, represents the principal progenitor of modern archaeology. This chapter is a glimpse of Taylor as a friend, teacher and mentor, department chairperson, and a gentlemen scholar. I address his strengths, weaknesses, and, ultimately, his attempt to exonerate himself from being one who did not fully live up to his own goals. At my coeditors’ request, the latter half of the chapter...

    • CHAPTER TEN WALTER TAYLOR: A Stimulating and Problematic Professor
      (pp. 169-176)
      Phil C. Weigand

      These recollections about Walter W. Taylor are completely personal. I have no notes or diaries that contain material about life at Southern Illinois University (SIU)—those that I do have contain only ideas and examples of my literary aspirations. However, my memories about various faculty members are fairly clear. It is my purpose here to offer a personal evaluation of Taylor as a professor and individual, viewed through the prism of my experiences and the filter of forty years. At best these memories are mixed. Taylor had a problematic and at times volatile personality, and I could never be completely...

      (pp. 177-194)
      Jonathan E. Reyman

      When Walter W. Taylor died on April 14, 1997, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, so ended the life of one of the more controversial American archaeologists, one of the “great archaeologists,” according to Tim Murray (1999).

      This chapter recounts my experiences as one of Taylor’s three doctoral students, the nature and consequences of our relationship in terms of my early career, and how Taylor’s conjunctive approach influences my archaeological research. Part of this essay derives from my obituary of Taylor (Reyman 1997) and much more is drawn from a biographical essay (Reyman 1999). Here I cover some of the same...


      (pp. 197-200)
      William A. Longacre

      I remember vividly my first encounter with A Study of Archeology, ten years after its publication in 1948. The library at the University of Illinois at Urbana had just changed their policy and now allowed undergraduate students direct access to the stacks. I was exploring the archaeology holdings and came across Walt’s book. It had a catchy title and I noticed the American Anthropological Association had published it. I checked it out and spent the weekend reading it.

      On Monday, I took it into my archaeology professor and asked why I was not told about this book. I was told...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN WALTER W. TAYLOR’S A STUDY OF ARCH(A)EOLOGY: Its Impact, or Lack Thereof, 1943–Present
      (pp. 201-216)
      Patty Jo Watson

      I did not know Walter Taylor personally but did meet him near the beginning of his career (1955) during a materials-analysis conference at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. Taylor had organized that conference and subsequently published the proceedings (Taylor 1957b). As a pre-M.A. graduate student in Near Eastern prehistory at the time, with comprehensive exams looming before me, I did not carry away detailed memories of him or the conference. The only other personal encounters between us were in 1974 at his retirement seminar, held on the Southern Illinois University campus, and in 1993 at the Washington University faculty...

      (pp. 217-226)
      Alice Beck Kehoe

      Walter Taylor’s undergraduate years at Yale brought him into close and continuing apprenticeship with Cornelius Osgood, who had joined Yale in 1930 and became curator of the anthropology collections at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History in 1934. Osgood was an old-fashioned anthropologist, carrying on primary fieldwork in both archaeology and ethnography and writing up his data in graceful, vibrant prose. The conjunctive approach¹ was his modus operandi, although he may not have used Taylor’s favored term. This chapter examines the work and research orientation of Prof. Osgood, with particular emphasis on segments of his thought that seem likely to...

      (pp. 227-242)
      Rosemary A. Joyce

      Today, there are numerous studies that could be cited in answer to this challenge. At the time Taylor wrote, his comment was an accurate reflection of the state of affairs in Maya studies. Curiously, he failed to cite one example of precisely the kind of study he called for: his own paper, published in 1941 in American Antiquity, “The Ceremonial Bar and Associated Features of Maya Ornamental Art.”

      This volume of the journal is probably best known today as the forum for Julian Steward’s presentation, “The Direct Historical Approach to Archaeology,” an explication of one of the fundamental arguments for...

      (pp. 243-298)
      Allan L. Maca

      Several groups of archaeologists working in the lowland Maya area currently are practicing what they label “conjunctive” approaches (e.g., Fash and Sharer 1991; Chase and Chase 1996, 2009; Sharer et al. 1999; Fash and Fash 2009). Some have advocated conjunctive research for the whole of lowland Maya archaeology (e.g., Culbert 1991; Fash 1994; Marcus 1995; Golden and Borgstede 2004a, 2004b; Sharer and Golden 2004; Buikstra, Miller, and Wright 2009; Yaeger 2009) and interest in conjunctive archaeology has spread within Americanist research (e.g., Rupp 1997; Dunning et al. 1998; Anaya Hernandez, Guenter, and Zender 2003; Joyce et al. 2004; Millaire 2004)....

      (pp. 299-314)
      Don D. Fowler

      The cultural Southwest has been defined as extending from “Durango, Colorado, to Durango, Mexico, and Las Vegas, New Mexico, to Las Vegas, Nevada” (Reed 1951: 428). Walter W. Taylor conducted two archaeological research projects within the cultural Southwest, the Coahuila Project, in 1937, 1939–1941, and 1947 (Taylor 1966a: 59–84; 1972b; 1988; 2003; Arratia 2008), and a Pueblo Ecology Study, in 1949, 1951–1952, and 1954 (Taylor 1958b). In addition to these two projects, he published a paper on the history of Southwestern archaeology (Taylor 1954) in the first and, to date, the last attempt to survey the entire...

      (pp. 315-330)
      Mark P. Leone

      The principal goal of this chapter is to build a model to explain the anger directed at Walter Taylor and to consider what this anger means for the field of American archaeology, its history, and its future, and the degree to which the field can or will accept and benefit from cogent internal critiques of practice and theory. To do this, I will put aside temporarily any unique traits associated with Taylor’s work, except for the widespread anger and long-standing reactions to his famous book, A Study of Archeology (1948). I take that anger as a starting point. It is...


    • CHAPTER NINETEEN “CONJUNCTIVITIS”: Notes on Historical Ethnography, Paradigms, and Social Networks in Academia
      (pp. 333-356)
      Quetzil E. Castañeda

      This volume takes one by surprise with many eye-opening moments, which are no doubt welcomed by most readers as enlightening and productive. Despite the benefits of this literal and metaphoric effect, it may nonetheless aggravate the pain and irritation of those few other readers who suffer from a type of “conjunctivitis.” This is a dis-ease, as it were, of vision triggered by contact not with Walter Taylor per se but with his aura as pariah or with the intellectual labor that the conjunctive approach demands. However, by revisiting his book’s theoretical issues and its sociohistorical context, as well as disciplinary...

    (pp. 357-362)

    Editors’ note. The following are two sets of correspondence received by the senior editor. The first was written in June 2009 by Kevin McLeod, a producer and director in the field of visual media [mstrmnd ltd]. McLeod currently lives in New York City. He was born in Michigan and is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The second involves a dialogue in March 2004 among participants in the 2003 SAA forum on Walter Taylor (see the preface to this volume). We include the segment of this exchange where Don Fowler, Rosemary Joyce, and George Gumerman...

    (pp. 363-406)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 407-416)