By Reniel Rodríguez Ramos
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Extra resources for Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History
In cases where a nonlocal rock is found at a site, its presence might be indicative of a myriad of social processes such as the establishment of equivalences (Polanyi 1968) with the materials and/or information that was provided in exchange as well as the operation of a social and/or ideological structure that justified the efforts involved in obtaining the imported commodity. In other cases, the production of a stone item could depend on par- The Method, the Sample, the Contexts / 31 ticular supernatural conditions that may have presented themselves inadvertently, as Oliver (2009) has argued for the production of cemíes.
Through time, with the influx of other styles of doing stone things and the endogenous reformulations of the original traditions, a myriad of ways of transforming rocks into things were continually devised. Unfortunately, the importance of understanding such technical traditions as important elements in the delineation of Antillean archaeology and culture history has been overshadowed by a focus on ceramics. In contrast, in the present work such technical traditions will take center stage. I herein analyze the traditions by delineating the distinct operational sequences involved in lithic production through time, from raw material selection to the manufacturing protocols by which these were transformed into “humanized” objects (Pfaffenberger 1988:244).
From Shared Norms to Contested Actions One of the main concerns in this work will be to move away from the normative perspective about “cultures” that is ingrained in traditional culture-historical studies, such as that advocated by Rouse. For Rouse (1992), “cultures” were envisioned as bounded entities composed of the sum of the shared package of cultural traits. These traits were culturally transmitted in the form of ideal norms or mental templates, which governed the behaviors involved in the production of material culture.