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Competition Expressed: Marking Places within Rural and Urban Landscapes

By Ralph J. Hartley and Sharon L. Kennedy


The extent to which marking places with images, symbols and/or script on a landscape reflect the dynamics of a socio-economic environment continues to be a subject of interest in social science. Places become socio-culturally meaningful often because of the content of the markings on non-portable surfaces. In some contexts the information content of the markings reveal a perception of propriety when competition for space or other resources between groups and non-kin related individuals characterizes a social environment. In other contexts the content of markings reflect competition between individuals for resources, status, or prestige. Urban environments, dense with diverse human activities, are laden with markings both socio-politically sanctioned and those often considered intrusive spatially and contextually, e.g. graffiti. Rural, less densely populated landscapes, are characterized by areas and places where markings produced in the recent past are signified socio-politically and often deemed worthy of maintenance and protection, e.g. indigenous rock-art. These places are, however, also subject to contemporary marking not socially sanctioned. We explore here the social context underlying variability in the marking of places in urban environments and in rural landscapes. The content, location and situational positioning of historic and contemporary intrusive markings in urban environments is compared to that of the juxtaposition of prehistoric and proto-historic rock-art as well as contemporary markings in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota (U.S.). Finally, we discuss the role of non-portable markings as a component of socially constructed space with the framing of questions and an approach to future research

Topics: graffitti, rock-art, visual information, Anthropology, Archaeological Anthropology, Social and Cultural Anthropology
Publisher: DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Year: 2015
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