Date of Award:

12-2021

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Molly Boeka Cannon

Committee

Molly Boeka Cannon

Committee

Anna Cohen

Committee

Kenneth Cannon

Abstract

Suitability modeling is a useful approach for exploring human interactions with their environments. Within a geographic information system (GIS) environment, locations are weighted relative to each other, resulting in a landscape hierarchy that displays regions from least to most suitable. Suitability modeling is used in various disciplines, from urban planning to natural resources, but a gap exists in research concerning social human behavior. This method can especially contribute to the investigation of social inequality at archaeological sites by considering multiple attributes within a site. In this thesis, I use method to determine social inequality between cultural groups at the historic townsite of Terrace along the Transcontinental Railroad in Utah, focusing on historic and archaeological evidence gathered in past research. My analysis shows that Chinese railroad workers lived amongst the least suitable regions of the site while Euroamerican railroad workers lived amongst the more suitable regions.

By investigating social inequality at Terrace, I address various overarching questions: First, how does archaeological evidence indicate segregation between the Chinese and Euroamerican cultural groups, and what is the nature of this segregation (forced vs. voluntary segregation)? Second, what can spatial analyses of cultural segregation tell us about urban planning and cultural interactions during the nineteenth century in the American West? Due to the large amount of ongoing research on the Chinese occupation along the Transcontinental Railroad during the late nineteenth century, there is a multitude of historical and archaeological evidence to support the presence of segregation and social inequality between the Euroamerican cultural group and other ethnic groups, including Chinese immigrants. By developing a spatial analytic method for documenting social inequality at Terrace, I hope that other archaeologists can apply this technique in similar settings. In doing so, archaeologists can expand the methods and theory used for analyzing social inequality at archaeological sites.

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