Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Archaeology of Bruce Trigger

Archaeology of Bruce Trigger: Theoretical Empiricism

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 320
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Archaeology of Bruce Trigger
    Book Description:

    In The Archaeology of Bruce Trigger, leading scholars discuss their own approaches to the interpretation of archaeological data in relation to Trigger's fundamental intellectual contributions

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7577-6
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xi-2)
    Ronald F. Williamson and Michael S. Bisson

    This volume is based, in large part, on a series of presentations made at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in a symposium entitled “The Works of Bruce G. Trigger: Considering the Contexts of His Influence.” The intent of that session – and indeed of this book, which contains expanded versions of those presentations as well as new contributions – was to draw together a variety of scholars in an effort to identify the fundamental importance of the intellectual contributions of Bruce Trigger. He has been many things to many people: a guide for the contextualization of archaeology...

  6. 1 The Many Influences of Bruce Trigger
    (pp. 3-15)

    In an era of specialists, Bruce Trigger has proven to be a true renaissance figure. He is one of the leading scholars of the history and archaeology of ancient Egypt and of aboriginal cultures in northeastern North America. He is a discriminating analyst and architect of social evolutionary theory and the definitive historian of the discipline. He has also been our most important guide for understanding the power of archaeological knowledge and our societal responsibilities in using that knowledge. Indeed, it is almost impossible to find an area of archaeology that has not been affected by some aspect of his...

  7. 2 Triggering Post-processual Archaeology and Beyond
    (pp. 16-24)

    It has become commonplace throughout the social sciences and humanities to seek epistemological positions that move beyond subject-object oppositions. From Bruno Latour (1999) in science studies to Bill Brown (2003) in literature, from historians of physics (Galison 1997) to phenomenological prehistorians (Thomas 1996), the aim has been to break down Cartesian oppositions and positivist dogma. From various perspectives, subject and object are seen as mutually constituted or dialectically engaged through the historical process. This is the new mantra of critical perspectives across a wide range of disciplines.

    Superficially, the work of Bruce Trigger seems at odds with this new trend....

  8. 3 Moderate Relativism/Political Objectivism
    (pp. 25-35)

    Long the honourable opposition in archaeological contexts, Bruce Trigger has been a Socratic gadfly, a provocateur, an irritant, and a substantial source of clarity on epistemological issues since he entered the fray in the late 1960s. By 1978, when he published his first collection of theoretical essays,Time and Traditions‚ he had already positioned himself as a sympathetic but critical outsider to the New Archaeology. Twenty-five years later his most recent collection,Artifacts and Ideas(2003), chronicles a cautious engagement with and ultimate disaffection from the succession of archaeological “-isms” generated by reaction against the New Archaeology. Again, he has...

  9. 4 Comparative Archaeology: An Unheralded Cross-cultural Method
    (pp. 36-51)

    Throughout his long career, Bruce Trigger has used his deep appreciation for divergent theoretical perspectives in archaeology to challenge his colleagues and students to consider alternative viewpoints. In the same spirit in which Bruce has challenged so many of us, I wish to comment on one important aspect of his research – his thirty-year contribution to comparative research in archaeology, in particular the comparison of early civilizations – while offering him a challenge for the future. Archaeology has long been at the periphery of cross-cultural studies in anthropology, but this is a historical contingency, not a necessity. In this chapter, I will...

  10. 5 History, Theory, and Politics: Situating Trigger’s Contribution to Social Archaeology
    (pp. 52-60)

    When I was an undergraduate at Australia’s University of Sydney in the early 1990s, Bruce Trigger’s work was necessary reading in almost every class, whether the course was devoted to archaeological historiography, current theoretical directions, the politics of archaeology, or studies of ancient Egypt and Nubia. In fact, Trigger’s prodigious output has successfully covered so many aspects of what we today call “social archaeology” (Meskell and Preucel 2004) that it been imperative reading for the past three decades. Trigger himself was a source of fascination for us. I remember how amazed we were that an archaeologist could be accepted as...

  11. 6 Marx, Childe, and Trigger
    (pp. 61-79)

    I first became aware of the work of Bruce Trigger while a graduate student at the University of Arizona in the late 1970s. The heady revolutionary days of the New Archaeology were over, and my professors were busily institutionalizing their revolution as the processual archaeology. In this context, Trigger’s name was frequently mentioned, but he was seldom assigned in seminars. The faculty clearly respected him as an iconoclast, as a critical thinker, and as a rebel like themselves. They liked his early settlement pattern research, but they could not embrace him as an ally because they did not know what...

  12. 7 Marxist Theories and Settlement Studies in Japanese Archaeology: Direct and Indirect Influences of V. Gordon Childe
    (pp. 80-91)

    When the editors of this volume first asked us to participate in a 2004 Society for American Archaeology session to honour Bruce Trigger, we immediately thought of the topic of Gordon Childe and Japanese archaeology. Perhaps this was because both of us had memories particularly linked to Childe, Bruce Trigger, and Japanese archaeology. In the late 1970s, the heyday of processual archaeology, Clare Fawcett, then an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, was asked by a Japanese professor of archaeology whether she had studied the work of Gordon Childe. From the context of the conversation, it was apparent that...

  13. 8 Yes Virginia, There Is Gender: Shamanism and Archaeology’s Many Histories
    (pp. 92-113)

    In December 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of theNew York Sun‚ posing the all-important question of her age – “Is there a Santa Claus?” – since some of her friends had been telling her that there was no such a thing. Francis P. Church, the editor, answered in what became one of the most famous editorials ever published in an American newspaper:

    Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not...

  14. 9 Bruce Trigger’s Impact on Ontario Iroquoian Studies
    (pp. 114-134)

    Those familiar with the scholarly record of Bruce Trigger will know that he has long regarded Gordon Willey’s (1953)Prehistoric Settlement Patterns in the Virú Valleyand K. C. Chang’s (1968) edited volumeSettlement Archaeologyas two seminal archaeological publications, often citing them in his arguments for viewing settlement patterns as a fundamental reflection of sociocultural systems (see, for example, Trigger 1998, 79; 1999, 304). Indeed, one of Trigger’s papers addressing the issues of settlement archaeology was first published in the 1968 volume edited by Chang (Trigger 1968, reprinted in Trigger 1978b, 167–93). Therein, he stated that his “chief...

  15. 10 Bruce Trigger and the Children of Aataentsic
    (pp. 135-141)

    When I was asked to speak of Bruce Trigger’s contributions to Iroquoian archaeology, I accepted gladly. Bruce is one of the pillars of our field, an individual whose contribution is so massive and pervasive that one is delighted to have the opportunity to say “thank you” in return. With that said, it is difficult to decide how to approach a career that spans forty years and produced more than fifty articles, six books (some regularly reissued in both English and French), and seminal editorships of theHandbook of North American Indians(volume 15,Northeast,1971) andThe Cambridge History of...

  16. 11 In the Land of the Lions: The Ethnohistory of Bruce G. Trigger
    (pp. 142-173)

    In the same year that Bruce Graham Trigger made his ethnohistory debut in theTransactions of the Royal Canadian Institute(1960) and while he was still four years away from earning his phd,¹ professional scholars were gathered at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the American Indian Ethnohistoric Conference at Indiana University. The proceedings, published a year later in 1961, focused on such questions as what is ethnohistory, how should it be done, and what are its virtues. Fred Eggan (1961, 8), the noted student of North American Indian ethnology, expressed the view that historians who “have written on the American...

  17. 12 The Influence of Bruce Trigger on the Forensic Reconstruction of Aboriginal History
    (pp. 174-193)

    A number of years ago I published a book chapter on the use of oral traditions as evidence in aboriginal litigation – a modest contribution that nevertheless created a stir, partly because it rejected the fashionable notion that, in assessing aboriginal versions of the past, one should not use critical approaches derived from the Western intellectual tradition. Of course, this was not a novel argument, but it was influenced by my own academic training. Indeed, I deliberately chose to title the essay “What My Elders Taught Me” in order to emphasize that non-aboriginal scholars who are engaged in reconstructing the past...

  18. 13 The Awakening of Internalist Archaeology in the Aboriginal World
    (pp. 194-209)

    A search for syncretism is awakening an internalist archaeology in the aboriginal world. This awakening is a response to aboriginal people’s ongoing dialogue about the past and describes their growing awareness that perceptions of antiquity are unique experiences. With this understanding comes a quiet shift in attitude whereby archaeology is recognized as something other than an instrument of oppression wielded by a colonizing society. Such historical antagonism is giving way to the view that archaeology is a mode of research that offers a bundle of methods that are useful in investigating the ancient remains of ancestral cultures. The result has...

  19. 14 Wise Counsel: Bruce Trigger at McGill University
    (pp. 210-220)

    This chapter highlights the profound impact that Bruce Trigger has had on the Department of Anthropology at McGill University and on the university as a whole. As his colleague for thirty years, I have been privileged to work with Bruce and to see first-hand his steadying influence on the operation of the department and on the delivery of our teaching programs. Long before mentoring of new staff became an official policy at McGill, Bruce took on that function both with our younger colleagues and with many of our graduate students. I was one of many to benefit. As chair for...

  20. 15 Bruce Trigger: Ambassador for Archaeology
    (pp. 221-224)

    Archaeologists ultimately tell stories that describe and explain the past, not only for each other, but for the wider world. We are a modern-day equivalent of the tribal storyteller, recounting a tale by a flickering hearth or in a Homeric banquet hall. Our stories are as sophisticated as the most intricate of Homeric tales. In this volume, we are honouring Bruce Trigger, a master storyteller in archaeology, someone who has probed deeply into the past and made it sing. It has been a “fine thing” to read and listen to him expound some of archaeology’s deepest mysteries over many years....

  21. 16 Retrospection
    (pp. 225-258)

    As the symposium out of which this book has grown drew closer, I found myself thinking about the past and trying to make sense of my career. The symposium and numerous informal discussions that followed it further stimulated this process. Consequently, I already had some ideas in mind when the editors asked me for an autobiographical sketch to accompany this publication.

    Most academics like to imagine that they are free agents waging a Promethean struggle to impose their novel insights and superior understandings on others. In reality, most of what we believe, we have acquired in one way or another...

  22. Bibliography of the Works of Bruce Trigger
    (pp. 259-288)
  23. Honours, Awards, Special Lectures
    (pp. 289-292)
  24. Graduate Student Dissertation and Thesis Titles
    (pp. 293-294)
  25. Index
    (pp. 295-304)