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Anthropology Book Examines Early California and its Native Communities

November 16, 2018
Professor Kathleen Hull

A new book co-edited by Professor Kathleen Hull highlights nine studies exploring how Native people retained or reimagined their communities in California between 1769 and 1834.

Forging Communities in Colonial Alta California” was published by the University of Arizona Press and co-edited by Hull and John Douglass, director of Research and Standards at Statistical Research, Inc. in Tucson. They chose contributions that examine settlement, marriage patterns, trade and other interactions in the inland, central and northern parts of what is now California in relation to colonialism, missions and lives lived beyond mission walls during a tumultuous period.

Hull, an anthropologist with the Department of Anthropology and Heritage Studies in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts , has collaborated with Douglass on papers and conferences for several years, and the book emerged from their work. She said they chose top scholars who used archaeology and thousands of historical documents to help illuminate the goals and strategies of early Californians, which gives researchers a better understanding of the struggles for Native sovereignty and rights today.

“Anyone who is interested in California history can get something from this book,” Hull said. “We looked at life in the missions and ranchos, the Pueblo of San Diego and how Native people maintained their community in that ‘urban’ setting, at refuge areas where people maintained their ways of life away from the surveillance of colonists.”

Hull is an affiliate of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. Her work focuses on three areas:

  • the practice and significance of ritual performance within small-scale societies, especially with respect to community-building;
  • the cultural and demographic impact of colonial encounters on Native people of North America and the process of European colonialism within Native communities more generally; and
  • the interplay of demography and culture, with particular emphasis on small-scale, hunting and gathering societies.