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Mimbres painted pottery from the U.S. Southwest is renowned for its spectacular designs. Literature on style and identity suggests three concepts helpful for understanding its social significance: boundaries, multiple dimensions of variation, and historical context. This article investigates these concepts by synthesizing past studies with new analyses. The distribution of Mimbres pottery is strongly bounded, demonstrated with data from the cyberSW project. Variation in designs is multidimensional: (1) individual artists created distinctive styles; (2) specific designs are distributed homogeneously across the region, a conclusion demonstrated in part with new analyses of the geometric designs; and (3) pan-regionally, the designs’ content, regular structure, and appearance on multiple media suggest they were meaning-charged. Considering these findings in their historical context provides insights into the pottery's social significance and elaboration: population growth in the resource-rich Mimbres region engendered land tenure systems, marked in part by burials that included pottery. The pottery came to convey the message “I belong here” from two perspectives. By adopting the pottery, people, including migrants, signaled their acceptance of established ways of life in the region, and their access to the pottery indicated their acceptance in the social milieu.
This agenda-setting volume brings together leading scholars of media and public life to grapple with how media research can make sense of the massive changes rocking politics and the media world. Each author identifies a 'most pressing' question for scholars working at the intersection of journalism, politics, advocacy, and technology. The authors then suggest different research approaches designed to highlight real-world stakes and offer a path toward responsive, productive action. Chapters explore our 'datafied' lives, journalism's deep responsibilities and daunting challenges, media's inclusions (and non-inclusions), the riddle of digital engagement, and the obligations scholars must attempt to meet in an era of networked information. The result is a rich forum that addresses how media transformations carry serious implications for public life. Original, provocative, and generative, this book is international in its orientation and makes a compelling case for public scholarship.
This chapter summarizes the book’s aim, which is to explore how scholars working at the intersections of journalism, politics, and activism make sense of and relate to some of the most pressing issues concerning contemporary developments in media and public life. Matthew Powers and Adrienne Russell describe recurrent questions that confront scholars of media and public life, and then summarize the core themes explored in the volume, which are living in a datafied world, journalism in times of change, media and problems of inclusion, engagement with and through media, and the role of scholars.