Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1997


Published in Great Plains Research 7:2 (Fall 1997). Copyright © 1997 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Philip Duke and Michael Wilson have compiled a well-written, well-organized book designed to "demonstrate the potential of postprocessualism to Plains archaeologists." It contains an editors' introduction, eleven scholarly contributions, as well as two commentaries. The editors suggest that the success of this "new paradigm or research strategy" will be assessed on the basis of its "second-generation scholars" and what they contribute to the "intellectual hybridization" of postprocessualism.

The reader must be aware that postprocessual archaeology does not consist of a coherent body of theory, models, concepts, or robust methods for data collection and analysis. Instead, it is a postmodern response to processual archaeology-an explicitly scientific, materialist-based approach that developed in the United States during the late 1960s. Postprocessual archaeology rejects the goals and methods of science, ignores human biology and ecology, and spurns cross-cultural generalizations. Postprocessualists argue that particular social, historical, and ideological factors shape human action and that humans are not pawns of an external environment; instead, humans create their own environment via material culture and symbols.