Settlement as history : A study of space and time among the Dogon of Mali

Lane, P. J. 

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This thesis is based on a study of the use and organisation of the residential space of a contemporary West African group of subsistence cultivators, the Dogon of Mali. Its aims are to contribute towards the development of a theory of material culture practice and increase our understanding of the relationships between physical space and human behaviour. In Chapter 1 some of the more common archaeological and ethnoarchaeological assumptions of these relationships are discussed. In particular, the notion that material culture passively reflects behaviour is critiqued, and an alternative formulation which proposes that material culture actively creates social values and meanings is developed. This position is further developed in Chapter 2 with reference to the temporal structuring of action. Chapter 3 provides an introductory ethnography of the Dogon, and the main theme is taken up again in Chapter 4 our with reference to changes in the social configuration of residential space. In Chapter 5 the use of material culture and its spatial order as part of personal strategies played out between young and old, men and women, the individual and the lineage is examined. Chapters 6 and 7 illustrate how these power and gender relations form the axes of daily practice and introduce the potentials for change. While Chapter 8 indicates how, in the face of this potential for change, the dominant ideology is sustained through the use of the physical fabric of settlement to construct a sense of tradition and identity. Chapter 9 summarises the arguments and discusses their implications for archaeology.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge