Tag: landscape

The Ritual Landscape of Michigan State University

The Ritual Landscape of Michigan State University

Last week I attended the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting, held this year in Washington D.C. This was a particularly pertinent meeting for Campus Archaeology because a symposium was held in honor of Dr. Lynne Goldstein. As she nears retirement and the end of […]

Rethinking the ‘Sacred Space’

Rethinking the ‘Sacred Space’

Michigan State University’s campus began as a small grouping of buildings in an oak opening, and since the 1870s, when the College President decreed that no further construction was allowed within this central wooded area, it has been known as the “sacred space”. The Campus […]

CAP at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference

CAP at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference

This May, the Campus Archaeology fellows will be presenting our research projects at the interdisciplinary Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The goal of this conference is to bring together scholars from multiple fields in order to discuss a variety of relating themes regarding issues of social justice and power, authenticity and integrity, tangible and intangible heritage, and sustainability in cultural landscape management.

Our symposium focuses mostly on the latter themes and is titled “Universities as Examples of Cultural Heritage Planning, Understanding Landscapes, and Being Sustainable.” The papers given will discuss the major research projects that CAP has recently worked on. Much of this research has been featured in various blog posts, but these papers will offer a much more broader view on each topic. This first paper describes how Michigan State has integrated sustainable food practices throughout its history through the examination of food production and choices over the course of MSU’s history. Women on campus are also related to changing landscapes through the creation of gendered spaces and the creation of a predictive model. Concepts of authenticity are employed in regards to the “sacred space” on campus and the perceived views of the undisturbed space. And finally, the prehistoric past on campus is explored and how this has shaped further historical developments on campus. All of these presentations will demonstrate how archaeology can benefit and enhance archival materials to help understand our historic past. They also demonstrate the impact and importance of Campus Archaeology to Michigan State University.

As this is not a typical archaeological conference, this will give us an opportunity to interact with scholars from other fields. It will allow us to demonstrate our broad impact on cultural heritage to a wide audience and gain insights on how it is approached and managed in other disciplines. We are also proud to announce that the Heritage Values Interest Group of the Society of American Archaeology has sponsored our session, which is a great honor.

Listed below are the titles of our papers and our abstracts, starting with our symposium abstract:

Universities as Examples of Cultural Heritage Planning, Understanding Landscapes, and Being Sustainable

Organizer: Lynne Goldstein

Land Grant institutions in the U.S. represent places that were originally oriented to educating and training farmers, but even in their growth and expansion, have always been places of reform and experimentation. In that context, this symposium looks at landscape, cultural heritage, planning, and sustainability of one of the pioneer land grant colleges: Michigan State University (MSU). In particular, we use the lens of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) to demonstrate how archaeology can contribute to current conversations on major issues of today. CAP uses the past to make the University better stewards, but also to experiment with new approaches, integrate archaeology into planning and training, and bring students and the broader public into discussion of larger issues of heritage and sustainability. Each paper in this session represents one of Campus Archaeology’s major projects.

Created Landscapes, Managing Heritage, Being Sustainable, and Learning from the Past: A Land Grant University and Its Campus Archaeology Program

Lynne Goldstein

The Michigan State University (MSU) Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) has existed for fewer than 10 years, and although we conduct archaeological work prior to University construction, we do much more. We have convinced MSU that it needs to be better stewards of its past, and the University has agreed. We do archaeology prior to ANY campus construction, whether it is a new building or planting a new bush. In addition to acting as stewards of the campus’ past, we focus on training students, engaging the broader community in the importance of the past to the present, and conducting independent research on the past. In 2014, we realized that although we had been well integrated into the university infrastructure system, we were not being included in the planning process. I offered an intensive class on Cultural Heritage Planning, and as a group we drafted a cultural heritage plan for the campus. The possibility of our success was realized when the Planning Office agreed to consider integration of our plan into the new University Master Plan. This paper outlines the process of this planning and some possible broader implications.

How the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program Has Examined Sustainability Through Time.

Nicole Geske, Lisa Bright, and Amy Michael

The role of universities in sustainability and cultural landscape management has largely been ignored. However, sustainability can often be studied more effectively at the university level, where there is a microcosm of greater society and its issues. To examine these questions, archival records and archaeology can be used to identify sustainable practices throughout the past using accepted benchmarks of energy, food, and transportation. To demonstrate the utility of this approach, we focus on sustainability of food systems at MSU through time.

As a land grant institution with a focus on agriculture, MSU incorporated food systems into the physical and cultural landscape since its inception. Sustainability in food practices was a large part of this effort, as it was required in order to maintain the campus. This self-reliance on food continued until the student population and surrounding community expanded to the point where it was no longer practical to be the sole producer of food. This change also mirrored larger societal trends where artificial and canned foods became preferred to those grown on campus. The University’s long tradition of food system sustainability allows the connection of historic data to modern trends creating holistic views of changing landscapes.

Understanding and Predicting Gendered Space on the Historic Campus at Michigan State University

Amy Michael and Josh Burbank

Although women were present on the historic campus, they were essentially an appendage to a male-dominated landscape focused on agricultural education. Females were officially admitted by 1870, though geographic isolation and lack of dormitory space ensured that enrollment was low until 1896 when the Home Economics course was created. Historical records demonstrate that during 1900-1925 there was a rapid rise in visibility of female students. Cultural norms of the time were at odds with these “co-eds,” as women were absent from home and pursuing education independently. Writings from memoirs and literary clubs illustrate tensions between the university and females as the administration enacted rules to maintain order on the increasingly integrated campus. Student council records reflect the desires of women to govern themselves, while journals detailed the gendered constraint felt academically and spatially.

We explore questions related to the building, maintaining, and fissioning of gendered space on the historic campus during 1900-1925. Further, archaeological correlates and material culture linked to changing gender roles and expectations will be explored. The combined archival/archaeological approach will allow for the creation of a predictive model of a historic gendered landscape that can inform future excavations by the Campus Archaeology Program.

What Does it Mean to be Sacred? Campus Archaeology, Authenticity and the Sacred Space of MSU

Katy Meyers Emery

Michigan State University’s campus began as a small grouping of buildings within an oak opening, and since the 1870s, when the College President decreed that no further construction was allowed within this central wooded area, it has been known as the “sacred space”. The Campus Archaeology Program has worked diligently since 2005 to investigate and protect the archaeological integrity of this historic portion of campus, and much of our work has been located within this ‘sacred space’. The ‘sacred space’ is perceived as the last historic and authentic feature of MSU’s campus, which has led to the it being discussed as a static preserved landscape- a perception that we too as the archaeologists on campus have perpetuated to some extent. However, despite being ‘sacred’, construction and reconstruction of the space has continued at a steady pace throughout the over 150 years of campus life. This paper investigates the manner in which the ‘sacred space’ has been treated and perceived in the past and today, the authenticity of its modern description and perception, and how we as archaeologists promote the protection and integrity of the space, while also addressing the changes of this living landscape, both the tangible and intangible.

Reading between the Lines: How MSU Campus Archaeology Evaluates the Past

Blair Zaid and Kate Frederick

This paper investigates both the tangible and intangible heritage of Michigan State University’s campus. The priority of historical heritage at MSU creates a silence of the multiple influences of the development of the campus, specifically the ‘Sacred Space.’ The ‘Sacred Space’ a designated area in the oldest part of campus now set aside for its aesthetic charms, has evidence for a prehistoric site dating to 3000 B.P. This paper posits that prehistoric and early historic land use by Native American populations over time influenced how the ‘Sacred Space’ was formed during the construction and protection of the space.  Using archaeological, geological, historical, and ethnohistorical information, this paper aims to interpret elements of the prehistoric landscape to better understand the multiple influences that helped shape the ‘Sacred Space.’ This project will ultimately help the MSU Campus Archaeology Program construct a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the University and ‘unsilence’ the overlooked contributions of prehistoric Native American populations to the changing landscape of MSU.

Gunson House / Bayha Home Management House

Gunson House / Bayha Home Management House

One of the bigger question surrounding the Hannah Admin building assemblage is, “Where in this area could these high quality ceramics have come from?”. They’re nicer than what would have been found in typical student areas, the site is south of faculty row, and they […]

Identifying Gendered Space in MSU’s Past

Identifying Gendered Space in MSU’s Past

For the past several months, CAP fellow Amy Michael and I have been preparing a presentation for the UMass Amherst Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference about gendered landscapes on MSU’s campus. What is a gendered landscape, you ask? A landscape can be considered “gendered” […]

“Mediascape” and Landscape: Thinking About Gendered Spaces in Contemporary and Past Populations

“Mediascape” and Landscape: Thinking About Gendered Spaces in Contemporary and Past Populations

The following is my first blog post for the Broad Art Museum Writing Residency program. We were given articles on “mediascape” and landscape and instructed to consider these works in conversation with Trevor Paglen’s artwork (referenced in my intro blog post about the residency) and our own research projects:

As a Biological Anthropology student interested in the prehistoric and recent past, I spend a lot of time thinking about how physical bodies (e.g. burials, ancestors, modern peoples) fit into a geographic and cultural landscape that persists through time. Paglen’s “experimental geography” (in addition to the assigned readings) has galvanized me to think about both archaeology and views of landscape in more sophisticated and creative ways.

Paglen has discussed his interest in “the line that separates vision from knowledge,’ acknowledging that material evidence does not often come to the forefront of his work (a particularly bold admission for this data-loving science student to read!). Rather, his images provide the foundation for a conversation, a questioning of the limits of knowledge, and an examination of how and why those limits came to be drawn. How can I, a student studying the prehistoric and recent past, apply these ideas to other cultures and peoples?

From an archaeologist’s perspective, these themes are present in prehistory in every complex hierarchical culture. However, the issue of material evidence is a very real and pressing concern; in fact, it is the end goal. I cannot imagine a field season in which I came home with no artifacts (no “evidence”). Jonathon Crary, writing in Techniques of the Observer (1990:32), stated that, “by the beginning of the nineteenth century the camera obscura is no longer synonymous with the production of truth and with an observer positioned to see truthfully.” Further, Crary wrote, “Vision can be privileged at different historic moments in ways that simply are not continuous with one another” (57).

Both Crary and Paglen touch on the reproduction of vision and its (potential) disassociation with truth and linear time; that is a truly revolutionary idea to me at this moment in my graduate program! Paglen’s work has made me begin to question how I operate as a scientist and how I envision research projects. Can I too explore the “line that separates vision from knowledge”? Perhaps. What I find most appealing is that Paglen does not provide us with a full story, but instead baits us and lets us debate, deconstruct, and deny or accept the photograph or installation.

Surveillance of, rather than documentation of, the landscape appears to be a main thrust of Paglen’s work. Access to the landscape (who gets it and how) is a resonant theme across time, geography, and culture; access and restriction are themes that crop up constantly in my archaeological research. The names, places, and cultures may change but the architecture of constraint occurs through time and space. Paglen seems interested in those structures and operations that are essentially hidden in plain sight; that is, their existence is not shrouded but their details are. This idea of conspicuous invisibility evokes a power dynamic that one is hard-pressed not to take personally: there are spaces in the country that, no matter your position, you do not have the right to physically access.

This residency program has made me reconsider the ways in which I think about studying landscape, especially at the historical level here on campus where we have written records and access to archaeological materials. While restriction and constraint have always been at the front of my mind in considering this gender research, I concede that I have thought often about these themes from only one perspective or dimension. Drawing on contemporary art and “experimental geography” to critically think about the organization of campus, in addition to the archaeological and historical materials available through CAP and University Archives, will help me to better form an anthropological inquiry into the female experience in the years past at Michigan State University.

Considering a Cognitive Landscape – Restriction, Constraint, and Surveillance in the Creation of Boundaries

Considering a Cognitive Landscape – Restriction, Constraint, and Surveillance in the Creation of Boundaries

In my last blog, I detailed the Broad Art Museum writing residency program that I will participate in this semester. We had our first meeting with the faculty members (from many different departments!) and fellows last week. Throughout the course of the meeting, we listened […]

Campus Archaeology at the Broad Art Museum: Exploring Gendered Spaces in a Conceptual Writing Residency Program

Campus Archaeology at the Broad Art Museum: Exploring Gendered Spaces in a Conceptual Writing Residency Program

I am pleased to announce that I was accepted to the Spring 2015 Writing Residency program at the Broad Art Museum (support by the Department of English and the Graduate School as well). Five other graduate students from the departments of English, Film Studies, and […]

Breaking All (or some of!) the Rules: Finding Subversion in the Historical Record

Breaking All (or some of!) the Rules: Finding Subversion in the Historical Record

As I’ve researched female students on the historical campus this past semester, I keep finding that humor and resiliency are recurring themes in their scrapbooks and journals. Interestingly, it seems that the mechanism of humor may have been used to deflect contentious attitudes about the female presence on a campus that had been historically male-oriented until the university began systematically admitting women in 1896 (female students were allowed on campus as early as 1870, but lack of academic programs and boarding quelled enrollment numbers).

Feronian Society. Courtesy MSU Archives
Feronian Society. Courtesy MSU Archives

Of course, it should come as no shock that female students have always been funny, creative, engaged, and productive in college life at MSU, but I think that sometimes we gloss over the past with a broad brush, believing that women only studied certain subjects, moved about in certain areas, and kept to certain codes. Not so!

The records kept by the Women’s Student Council from 1917-1934 show many infractions by women who must have been determined to buck some of the traditional standards that applied to them and not to male students. Interestingly, the first order of business called at the first Women’s Student Council meeting was a request by the female senior students to be afforded the same privileges as the male students on campus. It appears that these women understood the university process, and formed their council in response to growing enrollment numbers and desires to have more active voices on campus. Just one month after formation of the council, there is a record detailing a combined meeting of the women’s and men’s councils along with notes about the university president calling meetings to order.

Courtesy MSU Archives
Courtesy MSU Archives

Clearly the council was laying down roots and had the clout to be taken seriously on campus, approximately twenty years after women began enrolling en masse. Rules, proposed and accepted by the council in 1919 demonstrate that was a clear emphasis on honor, conduct, and morality that was directly tied to how women should behave around men; females were given rules regarding calling hours and were expressly not allowed to walk off campus with a male student.

Feronian Society Rules. Courtesy MSU Archives
Feronian Society Rules. Courtesy MSU Archives

It’s hard to conceptualize these rules today, but I believe that female students subverted some of this university and cultural authority by creating humorous takes on their situations. A females literary club, the Feronian Society, listed these tongue in cheek rules for women on campus in the 1905 Gluck Auf manuscript:

 

 

 

 

 

Pieces of the Past: Women’s Scrapbooks from the Turn of the Century

Pieces of the Past: Women’s Scrapbooks from the Turn of the Century

In my last blog, I shared a portion of the draft that I’m working on about gendered spaces on campus. The most challenging part of the project thus far has been isolating documents, folders, or ephemera in the University Archives that can inform the research […]