Southeast Anthropologist to Discuss Research on Archaeological Sites in Central Illinois in Red Light Night Program


A Southeast Missouri State University assistant professor of anthropology will discuss her archaeological research in central Illinois in a Red Light Night presentation Feb. 15 at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, 16 N. Spanish Street, in Cape Girardeau.

Dr. Jennifer Bengtson will present, “Material Expressions of Migration, Violence, Community-building, and Childhood in the Pre-Columbian Central Illinois River Valley,” when she speaks at 7 p.m.

Bengtson will discuss her research on the Morton Village and Norris Farms #36 archaeological sites near Havana, Illinois. Drawing on analyses of ceramic styles, skeletal trauma, and children’s burials, she will suggest that Morton Village residents from different cultural backgrounds created and expressed novel community identities within the contested social landscape of the 14th century Central Illinois River Valley.

“I’m really excited to share this research,” Bengtson said. “Looking specifically at the situation of children at these sites– how they lived and how they were treated in death– provides us with a more complete and dynamic perspective on life within this unique community.”

Bengtson’s research focuses on the intersection of archaeology and biological anthropology. She is interested in inter-and intra-community variation in experiences of gender and childhood in Mississippian societies. Her dissertation approached such issues from skeletal and mortuary perspectives. She has recently focused more specifically on ceramic manufacture, decoration and exchange as a means of studying identity in the past. Bengtson has done fieldwork in North Dakota, the Central Illinois River Valley and southeast Missouri.

Red Light Night is a series of after-hours discussions on a variety of topics within the arts. Red Light Night sessions are presented by guest lecturers and panelists at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri in downtown Cape Girardeau on select Thursdays at 7 p.m.