Households and Hegemony


Households and Hegemony

Early Creek Prestige Goods, Symbolic Capital, and Social Power

Cameron B. Wesson

256 pages
21 illustrations, 5 maps, 5 tables, index


July 2013


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The long-term significance of the household as a social and economic force—particularly in relation to authority positions or institutions—has remained relatively unexplored in North American archaeology. Households and Hegemony makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the role households played in long-term cultural change after contact with European traders and settlers.
Drawing together information from ethnohistoric records and data from one of the largest excavations in Alabama's history (the Fusihatchee Project), Cameron B. Wesson reexamines changes in early Creek culture from before and after contact with Europeans, beginning in the sixteenth century. Casting the household as a multifaceted cultural institution, he contends that important social, economic, and political transformations occurred during this time—changes that redefined the relationship between Creek households and authority. As avenues for exchange with outsiders broadened and diversified, prestige trade goods usually associated with Creek elites became increasingly available to individual households, so that contact with Europeans contributed to empowerment for Creek households and a weakening of traditional chiefly authority.
Wesson demonstrates that change within Creek culture in the historic period was shaped by small-scale social units and individual decisions rather than by the effects of larger social and political events. Households and Hegemony enriches our understanding of Creek history and makes a key contribution to comparative archaeological models of cultural change.

Author Bio

Cameron B. Wesson is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Vermont. He is the coeditor of Between Contacts and Colonies: Protohistoric Archaeology in the Southeastern United States and the author of Historical Dictionary of Early North America.


"[Households and Hegemony] is a well-written, thought provoking book. . . . Wesson forced me to rethink my understandings of habitus and hegemony, as well as the historic period transformation of Creek households."—Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Journal of Southern History

"Those historians . . . who approach Wesson's evidence and his book itself with both an open mind and an appreciation for the potential of interdisciplinary conversation will find a great deal that is challenging, worthwhile, and, in the end, impressive."—Joshua Piker, Historian

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



1. Social Agents, Hegemony, and Households

2. The Creek Social Universe

3. Creek-European Interactions

4. Changing Creek Households


Appendix of Tables