Voices from the Past: Conceptualizing a “Fifth World”
Mark Q. Sutton

There are thousands of extant indigenous societies in the world today whose voices are faint, garbled, and too often suppressed. These societies are seen as constituting a “Fourth World,” generally small separate societies living within the boundaries of larger contemporary states. A similar situation exists for the uncounted tens of thousands of past societies, most of whom had small populations about which we know little to nothing. Here it is proposed that these past societies constitute a “Fifth World,” defined as groups that remain undiscovered or unrecognized and so have virtually no voice in the contemporary world, or in a best case scenario, whose voices can only be discerned as indistinct and distant echoes. The purpose of this proposal is to remind archaeologists and others that such past groups are not just collections of traits identified over geographic areas or spans of time but were once living and vibrant societies, each with a unique culture that deserves to be included in our understanding of the human experience.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaa.v5n1a2