Catherine J. Frieman
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Power, influence, and adoption
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This chapter explores the motivations for innovation adoption in the past and present. It is built around a discussion of the complicated ways indigenous people incorporated (some) European materials into their material culture through a culturally contingent process of re-definition and negotiation. This fraught process is contrasted with common-sense adoption narratives built around a scaffolding of economic rationalism and superior functionality. The chapter argues against this sort of post hoc ergo propter hoc interpretation, suggesting instead that the choice to adopt an innovation is best understood through the lens of specific social and interpersonal relationships. In order to shift our perspective away from more traditional adoption narratives focused on influential or aggrandizing male elites, the chapter looks at shifting patterns of community and identity linked together by women and children through phatic labor. The role of kin – biological and fictive – is emphasized.

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An archaeology of innovation

Approaching social and technological change in human society

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