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Dietler, Michael and Brian Hayden (editors) (2001).  Feasts: Archaeological and Ethnographic Perspectives on Food, Politics, and Power.  Washington, DC: Smithsonian. 


Reprinted by the University of Alabama Press (2010).


From the ancient Near East to modern-day North America, communal consumption of food and drink punctuates the rhythms of human societies. Feasts serve many social purposes, establishing alliances for war and marriage, mobilizing labor, creating political power and economic advantages, and redistributing wealth. In this collection of fifteen essays, archaeologists and ethnographers explore the material record of food and its consumption as social practice. They provide a theoretical framework for understanding the social roles and cultural significance of feasting, and especially the ways that feasts constitute an arena for the practice of politics and the construction of power. They also asses the archaeological visibility of feasting, examining the locations of roasting pits, hearths, and refuse deposits, or the presence of special decorative ceramics, and infer ways in which feasting traditions can reveal social structures of lineage, clan, moiety, and polity.




  • Digesting the feast -- good to eat, good to drink, good to think: an introduction   

          Michael Dietler and Brian Hayden 


  • Fabulous feasts: a prolegomenon to the importance of feasting  

          Brian Hayden 


  • Theorizing the feast: rituals of consumption, commensal politics, and power in African contexts

     Michael Dietler 


  • Of feasting and value: Enga feasts in a historical perspective (Papua New Guinea)

           Polly Wiessner 


  • Akha feasting: an ethnoarchaeological perspective

          Michael J. Clarke 


  • Polynesian feasting in ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and archaeological contexts: a comparison of three societies

          Patrick V. Kirch 


  • Feasting for prosperity: a study of Southern Northwest Coast feasting

         James R. Perodie 


  • The big drink: feast and forum in the Upper Amazon

         Warren R. DeBoer 


  • Feasts and labor mobilization: dissecting a fundamental economic practice

         Michael Dietler and Ingrid Herbich 


  • The evolution of ritual feasting systems in prehispanic Philippine chiefdoms

         Laura Lee Junker 


  • Feasting and the emergence of platform mound ceremonialism in Easter North America

         Vernon James Knight 


  • A case of ritual feasting at the Cahokia Site

         Lucretia S. Kelly 


  • Feasting on periphery: the production of ritual feasting and village festivals at Cerň Site, El Salvador

         Linda A. Brown 


  • Feasting in the ancient Near East

         Denise Schmandt-Besserat 


  • Garbage and the modern American feast

         Douglas C. Wilson and William L. Rathje.

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