Dave Givens - Jamestown Rediscovery Senior Staff Archaeologist, was a previous recipient of the Annual Fellowship. In June 2015 his thesis, "Creating a Third Space: Material Culture, Colonialism, and Hybridity at James Fort," was submitted for the degree of Master of Arts, Historical Archaeology School of Archaeology and Ancient History University of Leicester.
Printed here is an excerpt from that excellent work. Here is to great expectations that someone else you know may soon be a candidate for a degree and a Jamestowne Society Annual Fellowship Winner.
Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusions
The express goal of this thesis was to explore the compounding issues that define clay pipe production both in the New World and the Old. The James Fort collection of clay pipes has become a vehicle for defining the emergence of development of post-medieval consumerism in England and how it was projected into the context of colonialism.
To that end, this study was set out to explore the concept of a “third space” or the presence of hybridity within a specific artifact set – clay tobacco pipes of produced by colonist Robert Cotton within a very narrow temporal and geographic span. Additionally, the study has also endeavored to explore the isochrestic and design elements both the English and Virginia Indian pipes comingled in the features within the fort. In doing so, the research sought to answer the following broad questions: (1) do the Cotton pipes show evidence that they were influenced by both English and Native production and design methods? (2) What might explain or trigger such a shift in the emergence of a new form of pipe? and (3) If these pipes are truly hybrid, what does this say regarding the nature of the producer and his endeavors to produce a product that is assumed to be consumed in England?
Empirical and historical evidence collected and synthesized for this study clearly indicates that Cotton’s pipes are combining production methods and design attributes of both Virginia Indian and English-made pipes. Historical and artifactual evidence suggests that colonist Robert Cotton was operating in London prior to May of 1607, when the Jamestown colony was established. Documents suggest that stationers – of whom Cotton was a guild member – may have been the first mass producers of clay tobacco pipes in England. Records then indicate Cotton’s investment in the Virginia Company and subsequent arrival in April of 1608 at Jamestown, after which there is no mention of him in the documents. However, the artifact record tells a different story.
Although there are English-made pipes throughout the features of James Fort, this study found no evidence of the production of similar pipes (i.e. mold-made) as was seen in other contemporary sites in England. To the contrary, all of the local pipes found in the early features were handmade and of the local Virginia clay. Cotton’s pipes differ from the Native-made pipes in that they were found to have been fired in a kiln using industrial, insulative vessels of which fragments of several differing kinds were recovered.
The form of the Cotton pipes are unlike any in contemporary Europe and appear to be taking design cues from indigenous pipes, particularly those found on the periphery of English exploration in the period of 1607 – 1610. Isochrestic attributes of bowl and stem bore production indicated that while Cotton is apparently trying to achieve a Native-like form, his need to mass produce for consumption demanded the use of tools that, for this study, produced consistent and measurable results.
This evidence makes one wonder why an Englishman would travel to the New World seemingly abandoning the pipe form he was trained in and adopt a new? From a strictly economic stand-point, Jamestown may have represented a way to get away from the constraints the fledgling pipe makers were experiencing in London in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Monopolies on suitable clay sources from Dorset mines held the London pipe producers in check. Virginia would have represented a new source of clay – the origin of elegant indigenous-made pipes gathered during the 1585 voyages – thus resulting in a way to subvert the monopoly of the clay merchants.
From a social and cultural perspective, the Cotton pipes might reflect a deeper meaning within contemporary English society. Over the years, Rediscovery archaeologists have recovered a varied amount of artifacts from disparate geographic locations and temporal contexts within James Fort. These objects, such as a 1st-century Roman oil lamp, Bermudian shells, and Virginia Indian artifacts have been identified as “curiosities” in which the English were collecting items of culture contact and exploration as a Renaissance expression of worldliness and status (Straube 2013: 33). From a similar view, Thomas (1991) wrote of the collection of curiosities by the English during encounters with the Pacific Islanders in the 18th century suggesting a continuum of the “culture of curiosities” with the expansion of colonialism (Thomas 1991: 126).
Might the unique James Fort pipes be reflective of this post-medieval view of the world where the notions “other” or “new” are reordered and transformed into a “thing” that effaces the objects original social meaning? Should this be the case, it presents an interesting concept of the creation of a synthetic or “artificial” product at such an early stage in English colonial expansion.
Although it is certain that many Virginia Indians sought out European goods, it is seldom part of the historic record that there was a transformation of English culture in a dynamic relationship of cross-cultural exchange. Is this concept of trans-cultural exchange a unique concept? For example, one would have little success in arguing that, in Norman Conquest, both French and English cultures were changed in immeasurable ways.
As Gosden points out that:
“Perhaps this is a truth about all forms of imperialism; rather than being simply the imposition of the colonial culture on the natives, native and colonizer are created through the relations of colonialism. The colonial experience was much more contradictory and complex than contained in simple histories emphasizing either domination or resistance (2002: 201).
This would imply a perspective divergent from the traditional view of contact as unilateral, violent, and ambivalent. Instead, it suggests that English culture contact involves a complex, bilateral transference of technology, information and ideas. One needs only to remember that the acquisition of pipes from the Carolina Algonquians in the 16th century confirms a history of bilateral exchange and hybridity in English interactions with the indigenous.
The notion of hybridity at James Fort provides a basis for a discussion within a larger theoretical body in the creation of the third space. Bhabha argues that the “third space” is an abstract location, one in which is projected and cannot exist in the absence of a difference from a first (Indigenous) and second (English) space (1994: 2). His position states that the first space is forced to function within the hegemonic structure of the second, a space of dominance that leaves little room for the first to negotiate an identity. (Bhabha 1994: 85 – 92).
This “third space” can be seen as interstitial or “in between,” emanating from the re-layering of culture contact and the projection of the “other” into the space. This “location of culture” is conceptualized by both cultures and the resulting hybridity is forged in an act of negotiation in the abstract, undefined, unbounded space (Bhabha 1994: 25). In the case of the Cotton pipes, they are the product of an idealized English perspective of the tobacco use in the New World – mythologized view of tobacco consumption derived from encounters and writings from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Could the apparent mimicry of the “first space” provide a differing perspective than that fomented by Bhabha? If the argument of the pipes being a “curiosity” is true, then the attributes of the first (Native-made pipes) are being leveraged for consumerist markets in England. This would imply the social values of the pipes are being reprojected into a space exterior to the periphery. So just as Virginia Indians may have sought out trade item such as copper or beads to increase social status or improve station within intertribal interaction, so too did the English.
Perhaps the James Fort collections of local pipes are a temporal anomaly. The Virginia Company had given strict orders to the English to distance themselves from the inhabitants who surrounded them, leading to a culture of distance (Haile 1998: 21). Additionally, it is clear from the writings of colonists such as John Smith that both cultures perceived a sense of control over the other. Powhatan repeatedly asserted notions of adoption, even referring to Smith and Captain Christopher Newport as “my sons” (Smith 1624a: 282). It is in this liminal environment of 1607 – 1610, the interactions between the first and second spaces are intimate and the location for which hybrid pipes are produced. Later years of violence, expansion, and control fractured the unique climate in which first and second could become third.
Through this work, it is clear that there is much left to be explored. The base of literature and research especially in the area synthetic works on the prehistoric cultures of the Chesapeake and surrounding areas is woefully lacking. This thesis has demonstrated, using one example of clay tobacco pipes, how integral the pre-Contact peoples of America were in the context of post-Columbian entanglements. In what other ways might this be explored? How might the hybrid spaces in other colonial ventures look? How did the Spanish, French, and Dutch incorporate indigenous culture and how was it expressed? Is there a difference in gender and the way the hybrid space is applied? All of these questions would require an Atlantic world perspective of colonialism – perhaps at a granular level where the artifacts and narrative are assessed in an attempt to identify bilateral acceptance or rejection.
For the Chesapeake specifically, as the growth of tobacco was tantamount to the development of a nation, the importance of tobacco use and smoking culture demands more comprehensive and synthetic bodies of work that integrate pre-Columbian and historic archaeologies in a more holistic way. Only from this position can archaeologists truly interpret the past and give agency to indigenous influences that rebalance the narrative. As for the temporal and geographic specificity of the James Fort collection, the vast array and discrete nature of the artifacts has the potential to support numerous studies of the English and Virginia Indian interactions. The Cotton pipes are just one of a spate of contact-period objects reflective of entanglement.
In this study, the Cotton clay tobacco pipe has been used as a vehicle to explore the complex nature of interaction in the context of colonialism. Additionally, it reveals the importance and impact of stretching the temporal nature of archaeology and avoiding essentialist perspectives that reduce peoples to objects or dates. In the end, it demonstrates the elasticity and unique perspective that historical archaeology provides in exploring new directions and narratives of an entanglement that would ultimately forge a new American identity.