Current Research

Communities of "Chromatic Prayer":

Tracing Ritual Knowledge Networks through Paint Recipes in the Chaco and Post-Chaco Worlds

The natural world is brimming with color. But the ability to capture color and impart it onto new media requires knowledge. This includes technical knowledge about where to get the right ingredients, and how to process, store, and apply them. But this also includes cultural, and in some cases, ritual knowledge. Ethnographic and ethnohistoric information from the Pueblos demonstrates that the act of producing and applying paint is considered "chromatic prayer," a highly regulated act governed by strict adherence to ritual protocol. I employ a range of non-destructive analytical techniques to identify paint recipes in material culture. In doing so, I am working to trace the development of communities of ritual practice.

For my dissertation research, I situate this work in the waxing and waning influence of the Chaco World of the northern U.S. Southwest to address longstanding questions of the emergence and maintenance of social inequality.

Recreating the Cave in the Kiva:

Tracing Prehispanic Shifts in Underground Performance Space in the U.S. Southwest

The kiva is arguably the most iconic and recognizable ceremonial venue in the U.S. Southwest. This underground ceremonial room has captured the attention of archaeologists who have vehemently sought to understand them: their origins and changes in form and function. Yet, after decades of scholarly attention, little has been done to consider their development alongside the use of the natural venues that they represent: caves

Drawing from performance theory in concert with archaeological research on both caves and kivas, I am working to understand historic trajectories of great kiva traditions in the northern U.S. Southwest. 

Multivocality and the National Register of Historic Places

Using the 'Historic Context' as a Creative Mechanism for Producing Multivocal Representation

Much of American archaeology today is driven by the need to determine whether archaeological sites are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This process affects how archaeological sites are identified, recorded, evaluated, and ultimately how they are protected. However, one of it's most fundamental concepts, the historic context, remains deeply undertheorized. I am working to revitalize this concept, arguing that it can be used as a creative mechanism to produce more nuanced and multivocal representations in the National Register

This work is based on research conducted to produce a revitalized (and notably multivocal) National Register listing for Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument

© 2020 Kelsey E. Hanson
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