Return to Bibliography
Shackel, Paul A. Personal Discipline and Material Culture: An Archaeology of Annapolis, Maryland 1695-1870. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993.
Paul Shackel uses an archaeologist’s approach to trace changes in etiquette in early Annapolis and how these changes affected the utilization of material objects. Drawing from Michel Foucault’s ideas involving power and discipline and Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas involving the meanings of power in everyday material culture, Shackel emphasizes the importance of etiquette in daily life; he believes “it is not an empty formality. It is tied to human relations and the creation of hierarchies in societies, it is dynamic, it supports interest groups, and it has material consequences”(p.3-4). Using etiquette and goods associated with etiquette, the elite society created and maintained boundaries between themselves and the lower classes. Shackel states that, as the lower classes gained more wealth and power, the upper classes had to change the rules of etiquette to keep their desired distance from others. Since society cannot be examined as a stagnate hierarchy but, instead, as a constant struggle for hierarchy, material objects highlighted the differences and changes within these groups. To illustrate this thesis, Shackel examines the Chesapeake region by means of archeological findings within distinct categories, such as individual time, social time, the history of etiquette, and the history of consumption. He demonstrates how supplemental information such as probate records, travel journals, club minutes, newspapers, and letters all provide information to assist the researcher in placing the objects into context: “by interpreting goods in the Chesapeake in their symbolic context we can create an understanding of meaning that is far more comprehensive that an understanding based solely on an index of wealth. It is the understanding of the recursive, or socializing, quality of material culture and how it is manipulated in social circumstances” (p.164). [C. Thomas]