Foreign Objects

Rethinking Indigenous Consumption in American Archaeology

Craig N. Cipolla (Editor)
Hardcover ($65.00), Ebook ($65.00) Buy

Brass tinklers and pendants. Owl effigies, copper kettles, crucifixes with blue glass stones. What do they have in common? The answer spans thousands of years and a multitude of peoples and places, and reveals how people made sense of their world as they collected and used the objects they encountered.

Foreign Objects demonstrates the breadth and vibrancy of contemporary archaeology. Taking a broad set of archaeological cases from across the Americas, editor Craig N. Cipolla and the volume contributors explore how indigenous communities have socialized foreign objects over time. The book critiques the artificial divide between prehistory and history, studying instead the long-term indigenous histories of consumption, a term typically associated with capitalism and modern-world colonialism.

The case studies range from “exotic” stone tools used millennia ago to nineteenth-century patent medicines made and marketed by an Indian doctress. Foreign Objects focuses on how indigenous groups and foreign objects became entangled with one another in myriad ways. The book explores how the framework of consumption can shed new light on trade, exchange, materiality, and cultural production.

Contributors place foreign objects in the spotlight and offer a comparison of how this general class of material played a part in indigenous and colonial worlds. Each chapter illustrates how notions of consumption fit into their place in time and also delves into how foreign objects related to ideas of the body and personhood, how people used them to participate in political and spiritual worlds, and how they presented new ways of enduring or resisting European colonialism and capitalism. Foreign Objects is a critical look at consumption through the lens of indigenous knowledge and archaeological theory.


Matthew A. Beaudoin
Lewis Borck
Kathleen J. Bragdon
Craig N. Cipolla
Charles R. Cobb
John L. Creese
Diana DiPaolo Loren
Martin Gallivan
Meghan C. L. Howey
Barbara J. Mills
Maxine Oland
Lee M. Panich
Patricia E. Rubertone
Christopher Shephard
Keith D. Stephenson

“Showcase[s] an intellectually vibrant historical archaeology that should garner the attention of archaeologists of all persuasions.”—Antiquity

“A significant step toward defining a new area of study."—Christina J. Hodge, author of Consumerism and the Emergence of the Middle Class in Colonial America

“The authors in this book challenge the notion that indigenous people naively adopted 'foreign' things and ideas without thoughtful cultural engagement and interpretation of these objects into their own systems.”—Liam Frink, author of A Tale of Three Villages: Indigenous-Colonial Interactions in Southwestern Alaska, 1740–1950
Foreign Objects
304 Pages 6 x 9
Published: April 2017Hardcover ISBN: 9780816531912
Published: April 2017Ebook ISBN: 9780816536313

For Authors

The University of Arizona Press publishes the work of leading scholars from around the globe. Learn more about submitting a proposal, preparing your final manuscript, and publication.



The University of Arizona Press is proud to share our books with readers, booksellers, media, librarians, scholars, and instructors. Join our email Newsletter. Request reprint licenses, information on subsidiary rights and translations, accessibility files, review copies, and desk and exam copies.


Support the Press

Support a premier publisher of academic, regional, and literary works. We are committed to sharing past, present, and future works that reflect the special strengths of the University of Arizona and support its land-grant mission.