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Abstract

Ceramics from the Keith Site, a farmstead in upstate New York, are principally expensive, early nineteenth century table and tea vessels. Documentary evidence places the site occupation at the mid-century which is confirmed by TPQ dates. Moreover, the site's residents were lower class farmers and other artifact classes show little investment in consumption. These discrepancies become clear when we consider the high diversity of ceramic vessels, which we would expect if the site residents purchased older, cheaper vessels in "odd lots." Consumer choise models rest on ideologically loaded assumptions of free will and unlimited choice in the market place. The lower class residents of the Keith Site had very restricted choice in their material culture. Thus, their ceramics do not simply mirror their class standing or express their identity, but rather tell the tale of their struggles within the milieu of rural class relations, struggles in which production and female labor were crucial.

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