Angel Ethnogenesis and the Cahokian Diaspora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rise of Cahokia, the largest precontact Native American city north of Mexico, was precipitated by centripetal and centrifugal mobilizations of peoples, ideas, objects, and practices. To interrogate outward Cahokian movements as diasporic, I reassess relationships between Cahokia and the Angel polity on the northeastern Mississippian frontier. I approach Mississippian communities through a relational framework as ever-emerging assemblages constituted by both human and non-human actors. This framework emphasizes ethnogenesis as a process of diaspora whereby dispersed groups are in a perpetual state of community-making outside of, but in reference to, a homeland. I focus on an analysis of the Angel assemblage of Ramey Incised pottery, a power-laden Cahokian object, and determine that Angel Ramey exhibits local paste signatures in what are otherwise primarily Cahokian-style pots. Further, I contextualize artifactual connections with socio-spatial practices of Angel communities and demonstrate that aligning residential structures and communal features to a Cahokian cosmography was a principal part of community-identity-making throughout the Angel polity. Ultimately, I argue that relationships with Cahokia motivated ethnogenesis in Angel communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-156
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Angel
  • Assemblage
  • Cahokia
  • Community
  • Cosmology
  • Diaspora
  • Ethnogenesis
  • Relational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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