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Guam 1668-1769

Cultural Change and Cultural Continuity in the Jesuit Mission

By Dr. Sandra Montón-Subías, Dept. d’Humanitats, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08005 Barcelona, Spain, ICREA, Pg. Lluís Companys 23, 08010 Barcelona, Spain.


In this paper, I will present the theoretical background of the archaeological project Aberigua (Archaeologies of Cultural Contact and Colonialism in Guam). This project investigates processes of cultural change and continuity associated to the incorporation of Guam and the Mariana islands by the colonial network of the Spanish empire. Although focus is on Jesuit missions, the project embraces previous and posterior chronologies to understand colonial impacts in their full magnitude. Stress is placed on gender construction and maintenance activities, a concept born in Spanish feminist archaeology to highlight the foregrounding nature of a set of recurrent daily practices — such as care-giving, food-processing, textile manufacture, hygiene, health and healing, the socialization of children, or the arrangement of living spaces — that are essential to social stability, continuity and wellbeing. Maintenance activities were clearly endeavoured by Jesuit policies to colonize indigenous lifeways and subjectivities, but they also worked as reservoirs of traditional knowledge. I will use textile manufacture and bodily habits as a case example.