Spatial Analysis and Actor-Network Theory: A multi-scalar analytical study of the Chumash rock art of South-Central California

Wienhold, Michelle (2014) Spatial Analysis and Actor-Network Theory: A multi-scalar analytical study of the Chumash rock art of South-Central California. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The aim of this research is to provide a more holistic approach to study Chumash rock art throughout their entire geographic region within South-Central California by applying geographic information systems (GIS), incorporating ethnohistoric and ethnographic data and utilising associated archaeological material under an Actor-Network Theory (ANT) framework. Through a review of past Chumash archaeological and rock art studies, I discuss where previous research is lacking and how that research was fragmentary due to focusing only on specific geographic areas or linguistic regions. As rock art is an artefact fixed within the terrain, I further argue it has a potential connection to the topography--particularly its relationship to Chumash landscapes and taskscapes by applying both formal and informed methodologies at multiple scales. By modifying the tenets of ANT to create a framework that uses the rock art data to define space, analyse its heterogeneity and connectivity and study its topographic entrenchment, this research conceptualises rock art’s networks. To conduct this research, I collated a large body of spatial and descriptive information for 254 rock art sites and associated archaeology. Spatial analyses were performed at multiple scales using GIS as a heuristic to conceptualise site clustering, landscape entrenchment and anisotropic movement for the collated data. While the rock art sites were used to define the multi-scalar spaces, results show that the identity of the sites change throughout space and time where rock art itself is a network and not exclusive to one specific Chumash network. Analysis of the data shows that the topographic setting entrenches the rock art and begins to represent the dynamic assembly of its heterogeneous network relations. Movement through the landscape reflects how the sites were connected or structured within their landscapes and taskscapes. Overall it reflects rock art’s interrelationships to the networked economic, social, ideological and political organisations of the Chumash and their rich ceremonial practices. Therefore, the Chumash rock art networks were as complex, dynamic, variable and heterogeneous as Chumash society and the rock art panels themselves.

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