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March 2006 Newsletter

ISSN: 1933-8651

In this issue we present the following articles, news, announcements, and reviews:

Articles, Essays, and Reports News and Announcements Conferences and Calls for Papers Book Reviews

The Power of a Name:
Reclaiming Heritage in Freedmen's Town, Houston, Texas

By Carol McDavid

This paper was presented by Dr. McDavid at the Annual Meetings of the Society for Historical Archaeology, January, 2006, Sacramento, California.


Today, I will approach the idea of the political economy of freedom by looking at how a particular "freedom narrative" was enacted when previously enslaved people created Freedmantown, in Houston, Texas, and how this narrative continued as the founders' descendants (lineal and cultural) occupied,, renamed and reclaimed the physical space in which the contemporary Freedmen's Town still exists. I will also examine how these processes occurred despite and because of racist public policies and gentrification pressures which have, over the past 67 years, systematically attempted to erase Freedmen's Town from the map of Houston. Finally, I hope to begin to account for the contested, overlapping, multivalent ways that multiple stakeholders, including our archaeology project and its sponsors, have participated in and intersected with this "freedom narrative."

Freedmen's Town is an economically disadvantaged but historically rich urban African American neighborhood where, for the past several years, my co-director David Bruner and I have directed a volunteer-based historical archaeology project. We do this under the sponsorship of the Yates Museum, a house museum and preservation organization. We conduct field schools for two local universities, do mitigation and research archaeology on various Freedmen's Town sites, and implement a variety of public archaeology activities. We hope to create a collaborative, contextual, reciprocal, mutually empowered project which is community based, not just community placed (Ervin 2000). At this point the jury is still out as to whether that will be possible.

Historical Overview

First, some historical context. After the Civil War, and in some cases before the war ended, Freedmen's Towns -- known by different variants, including Freedmantown, Freedman's Town, and Free Man's Town -- began to appear across the South. Some of these were built as havens for escaped enslaved people, such as the one in Mitchelville, South Carolina. More often they were founded by people immigrating from rural to urban areas after the Civil War. Although I have found examples of several, from Texas to Mississippi to Kansas to South Carolina (perhaps most notably the one in Dallas now being investigated by Maria Franklin, Jim Davidson, Jamie Brandon, and others) to my knowledge Houston's Freedman's Town is only remaining freedman's community in the United States which is still occupied by descendants of the original founders. Although endangered, in every sense of the word, what local residents define as Freedman's Town is still an extant community with a strong sense of its own history. It was founded by previously enslaved people immediately after the Civil War [House, ND #1959; Maxwell, 1997 #1996; Wintz, 1990 #1761; Wintz, 2002 #1258]. Some of these founders already lived in Houston, but most flowed in from surrounding plantations, entering the city by way of the old San Felipe Road, and settling in the swampy Buffalo Bayou bottom land just west of central Houston. One historian, Louise Passey Maxwell, has made the case that one of the main reasons they chose this particular area to settle was because they were able, for a variety of reasons, to buy property there, and thus to create a black community, free from white surveillance. In any case, by the 1870's, black property owners comprised the majority of residents of Freedmantown (Maxwell 1997: 149).

Freedmantown was located within a larger political and geographical unit called Fourth Ward, which had been established in 1839 and included other black and mixed neighborhoods to the south and east of San Felipe Road, the road which abutted Freedmantown. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Fourth Ward, including Freedmantown, was the center of black cultural, educational, and professional life in Houston, notable for the number of important black institutions it housed (Wintz 1990). It is where Houston's first black lawyers, printers, judges, doctors, ministers and teachers owned homes, lived, and worked, and it became known as the "mother ward" of black Houston (Wintz 2002). The desire for self-determination which drove the creation of the original community -- the freedom to live where one likes, and with whom one wants to live -- still exists today.

In 1938 most of the houses in the original Freedmantown settlement disappeared entirely, when, through eminent domain, the city took the land to build a thousand-unit housing project for low income white people called "San Felipe Courts." Despite protests to city hall and the federal government that this project would dislocate hundreds of people from one of the city's most important black neighborhoods, the government went ahead with the project (Beeth and Wintz 1992). But this was not the end of Freedmantown.

According to oral history, what was originally mapped as "Freedmantown" (and there is one map with that name), by then, simply expanded to include the area just south and east of the original settlement (House 2005) -- that is, part of the larger Fourth Ward. Although we have not yet been able to track individual people through census and land records, it does seem likely that many of those who were displaced from their original homes in 1938 would simply have moved to the other side of San Felipe, because it was where so many important churches, schools, and businesses had already been built. In any case, over time the original name fell into disuse (Maxwell 1997), and people began referring to the neighborhood as simply "Fourth Ward."

Over the middle part of the 20th century, Fourth Ward became vulnerable to expansion pressures from the central business district (Beeth and Wintz 1992); large parts of it are now under downtown skyscrapers. The part of the Ward that is now known as Freedmen's Town is the area just south of the original settlement, and is now a designated National Historic District. I'd like to tell that story by jumping forward a few years, to examine contemporary hopes for the area, and to consider how our archaeology project might intersect with those hopes.

From Freedmantown to the Freedmen's Town Historic District

When Gladys House, a fifth generation descendant of the community's founders, was 14 years old, in the 1960's, she started to attend meetings having to do with the future of her community. These meetings represented the City of Houston's early efforts to begin "urban renewal" in the inner city. As she put it,

"I would attend the community meetings [and hear] the bad attitude of the elected officials [about my neighborhood] . . . so I began to talk to some of the elders . . . and . . . to do . . . oral interviews . . . . There was nothing in the library, the whole library, on Freedmen's Town, so I began to do more research . . . [to] try and start putting something on paper about the history of Freedmen's Town."
These meetings changed her life, and House began to unearth the history of her neighborhood. She learned about what had happened at San Felipe Courts with the eminent domain action. She learned about the many early black leaders who had built the community. As she was learning, she was watching her historic community slowly being erased. So, she decided to apply for a National Register designation for what she then began referring to as "Freedmen's Town" (I'm not quite sure why she changed the name, but have been told by another community activist that it was because a more "grammatical" name was wanted (Johnson 2005); and that a distinction wanted to be made with the original settlement). Despite continued pressure from the city and from developers to prevent the application from being successful -- including sending people around to threaten elderly residents that the designation would prevent them from ever selling their property -- in January of 1984 the Texas Historical Commission unanimously approved it. At the same time, House established the Freedman's Town Association. One of her earliest and most difficult fights was to get the local press, and others, to refer to the name of the area as "Freedmen's Town", instead of "Fourth Ward." She had to force the city to post any signage at all, even after the designation was made, and was only able to get two official state markers installed a few weeks ago, having had to raise the money for those herself. House knew that claiming the name was a vital part of reclaiming the neighborhood.

At about the same time that House was starting to work on the Register designation, in 1980 a man named Lenwood Johnson moved to the public housing project at San Felipe Courts -- by then they were allowing African Americans to live there. He, too, became interested in the history of the land upon which his home sat. He too decided to organize his community to obtain a National Register listing, this time for San Felipe Courts, which was known by then as Allen Parkway Village. He enlisted the aid of several community professionals, and, despite the resistance of the Housing Authority which owned the project, that designation too was awarded, in 1987. Johnson formed a group called "The Unity," which is now known as the "Free Man's Neighborhood Association." He told me that rather than working under the auspices of the Freedmen's Town Association, his group wanted to unite the people who lived in what was now "Freedmen's Town" and the citizens of Allen Parkway Village, which was located over the original settlement. Johnson and his group wanted not only to preserve the physical structures in the project -- which were in themselves an important example of early modernist architecture -- but also to implement an ambitious, resident-led management plan. They got a lot of support, even for a time from the Director of HUD, but over time -- this is a very long story, and I cannot do it justice here -- the City and Housing Authority prevailed and in the mid-1990's, most of the project was bulldozed and a new mix of low income and affordable housing was built. The important thing for today's purposes is to point out that acquiring the National Register designation for San Felipe Courts was seen by Johnson and others as a way to, in effect, reclaim the original Freedmantown and to reconnect it to the adjacent area that Gladys House had gotten designated as "Freedmen's Town."

So, in the late 1980's and early 90's, hopes were high within the community that these designations would generate funds to drive a full scale preservation effort. However, the City refused to work with either Johnson or House (in fact exploiting their many differences whenever possible) and refused to lend any support to the grant applications which the designations would have enhanced. A number of internal reports and planning maps created by the Housing Authority and the City during this period have emerged, through the work of various reporters and activists, and it is clear that complete erasure was always the stated intent of the developer-friendly city government and the various agencies which colluded with it.

During the same period, pastors of the local churches were claiming their own stakes in the future of Freedmen's Town. Some wanted to preserve the historical character of the community, and allied themselves with House or Johnson. Some wanted to promote their own property development schemes, and destroyed plenty of historic houses in the process. Recently some of the more historically minded have formed the "Pastoral Leadership Coalition," in an effort to preserve several historic churches. Other stakeholders have also emerged, including the residents of the new housing in the community. I recently learned that some of these newcomers were told, by the outsider groups selling them their homes, that that they should avoid associating with the existing (black) community groups, and instead should form their own neighborhood associations. Another stakeholder is the Yates Museum, our sponsor, which is buying property in order to preserve it. Developers and city planners who want to "redevelop" Freedmen's Town into a yuppie village are stakeholders too, and most deny the racism and classism which underpins their efforts -- as one developer said to a newspaper recently, "why shouldn't a black dentist want a nice, new neighborhood too"? And I can't forget that we, the archaeologists, are stakeholders too. We are building our careers on the backs of the community, and this talk is one example of that.

In short, it is within this unstable, contested, strife-filled and sometimes downright nasty political and social terrain that we are trying to do "community archaeology". Over the past year or so, we are a little closer to the goals I stated earlier, and I think that this is for two reasons. First, we now have a better understanding of the community -- of, as Leone Potter and Shackel put it years ago, its "interests and conflicts," and the historical and contemporary dynamics I've just described. The second reason is going to seem almost heretical, I suspect. We've started to understand that our work having meaning to the community has little to do with how we include them in the work itself -- that is, how we formulate research questions, analyze results, and so on. Sure, it's great when it happens, and we will keep trying, but the reality is that people have their own lives to lead. Mutually empowered collaborative research takes a huge amount of time -- for everyone. While we -- the archaeologists -- may be willing to devote these chunks of time, this is because we see this as our "job" (Stoecker 1997). The stakeholders we work with may not have that luxury, or, even, desire.

So, how does this relate back to the topic today? How can the idea of freedom, as expressed in terms of self reliance, self-determination, and independence, intersect with how we do archaeology in Freedmen's town? We can turn to the community's own words for some clues -- here are some excerpts from several interviews with House, Johnson, and other community members:

"[In the past] . . . [the community was] . . . prominent, progressive. And we didn’t have to go to the Caucasians for anything; we were self-sustaining . . . . "We could get anything we needed . . . we didn't have to rely on anyone outside, we had our own doctors, lawyers, schools, and stores . . . . People were genuine and did all they could do to help . . . they wanted to get to the finish line together. You talk about a village raising? Well, everybody . . . helped you to raise your children . . . the whole community worked together . . . It was like a big village, and we all supported one another . . . we had a nurturing neighborhood . . . . We just took what we had and shared it . . . it brings joy and happiness, when you can do that. That’s what we had in this neighborhood . . . .

When they speak of what they want for their community in the future, the same ideas emerge, in a different form. As House put it:

I [want to] bring back all of the former grassroots residents of Freedmen's Town . . . and all of them would be welcomed back in the community . . . . We would open our businesses up out here again, so that we could be an independent community . . . and our people would be in power . . . this would be a community of being in charge of itself . . . .

These expressions of freedom and independence in Freedmen's Town are the cultural and spiritual descendants of the original spirit which created the original community of Freedmantown. So, not long ago I asked both House and Johnson how they saw our work -- what they saw it doing for them -- in order to better understand how their freedom narrative could intersect with our archaeology project. It surprised me to learn that they didn't really expect our work to aid directly in achieving the goals that they expressed above. Nor did they want to participate in our research. Both expressed enthusiastic support for archaeology, but their enthusiasm was for three things.

First, they want the new information that archaeology can offer about the past -- especially when this information can counter negative ethnic and class stereotypes in the larger Houston community.

Second and equally important, they like the legitimization that our work, done by people with fancy PhD's and so on, confers on their own efforts to convince others that their community is worth saving. That is, they use our work strategically, when they see the need. For example, House told me how she had put a report we had given her, about one of her properties we had investigated, on the desk of a city planner, to show that "an authority" thought that her neighborhood was important enough to study, and save. The specific content of our report was less important than the fact that we had done the work and written up the report.

Third, they are enthusiastic (if a bit surprised) about our ongoing efforts to talk to white people about African American archaeology, as well my own recent activism when speaking to white audiences about white privilege. While they are happy when we want to involve community people, especially kids, in our project, they are just as happy for us to bring students and volunteers in from the outside, most of whom are white. They know that this will create support for their own agendas, as well as more respect for their neighborhood. It does, too -- I recently accidentally encountered a blog where a previous student said his experience doing archaeology in Freedmen's Town had been "life changing." House, Johnson, and others see clearly that our work can be used for their purposes, both directly and indirectly.

But in terms of being full "research partners," we have found that most of the time, community members are far too busy with their own fights to help us do what they see as our jobs. But they do want us to do those jobs. They do want us to share what we learn, as long as we do so with respect for existing community narratives, oral history accounts, as well as their own policy and programming goals. The latter has been challenging at times, because our sponsor is a preservation-first organization, and within the community, other needs sometimes trump preservation, and negotiating a pathway between the two has occasionally been difficult. But for the most part community people are happy for us to do, as one put it, "our own thing," in terms of how we organize and conduct archaeological research. They are also pleased to provide interpretation assistance when asked, as well as feedback to insure that we are presenting our findings sensitively. In short, with their help, we are learning to walk a thin line -- to offer our skills, resources and information to them to use for their own agendas, while at the same time pursuing the research questions we are interested in. We are learning that, given transparency and openness, these are not mutually exclusive activities.

Political economy and gentrification

Today I've spoken mostly about local contexts, but larger ones are important to consider briefly as I close. Gentrification and historic preservation efforts in Freedmen's Town, Houston are part of the larger political economy of 21st century Texas. They are connected to national, even global issues surrounding urban policy, historic consciousness, racism, classism, systematic erasure and displacement. In Houston, as is true elsewhere, the proximity of the neighborhood to the downtown area lends urgency to the problem. I am not all sure that one small archaeology project can have a substantive role to play in resisting these larger forces.

But we can take the time and energy to truly understand how the communities we work with construct their own narratives, and how they find meaning in their own histories -- that is, we can be what most of us in this room were trained to be in the first place, anthropologists. How many times have any of us done intensive, systematic ethnographic research since we started to specialize in archaeology? We can use our work to enhance community agendas (in the case described here, to support self-determination and independence) but only if we know what those agendas are, what they sprang from, and what they hope to accomplish. This type of contemporary context research should not be something nice that we only do if we happen to have the time and budget for it -- it should be mainstreamed into our projects and seen as a normative and necessary part of archaeological research. The topic raised by today's session planners has allowed me to see the Freedmen's Town community, and its agendas, through a different sort of lens, and my awareness of, and sensitivity to, the community is enhanced because of it.


Beeth, Howard, and Cary D. Wintz, eds.
1992    Black Dixie: Afro-Texan History and Culture in Houston. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M Press.

Ervin, Alexander M.
2000    Applied Anthropology: Tools and Perspectives for Contemporary Practice. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

McGhee, Fred
2005    Oral History inteviews with Gladys House, Jackie Beckham, Darrell Patterson, and Martha Whiting.

House, Gladys
2005    Oral History Interview; transcript in author's possession.

Johnson, Lenwood
2005    Oral History Interview, transcript in author's possession.

Maxwell, Louise Passey
1997    Freedmantown: The Origins of a Black Neighborhood in Houston, 1865-1880. In Bricks without Straw: A Comprehensive History of African Americans in Texas. D.A. Williams, ed. Pp. 125-52. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press.

McDavid, Carol
2004a    A Pragmatic Archaeology for Collaboration and Reform: The Yates Community Archaeology Project. Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Louis, MO.

McDavid, Carol
2004b    Public Archaeology as a pathway to understanding: Rethinking the heritage "product". Making the Means Transparent: Research methodologies in heritage studies conference, University of Cambridge, England.

McDavid, Carol
2005    Activist Archaeology? A critical look at an emerging disciplinary interest. Society for Applied Anthropology, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Stoecker, Randy
1997    Are Academics Irrelevant? Roles for Scholars in Participatory Research. American Sociological Society.

Wintz, Cary D.
1990    The Emergence of a Black Neighborhood: Houston's Fourth Ward, 1865-1915. In Urban Texas: Politics and Development. C. Miller and H. Sanders, eds. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M Press.

Wintz, Cary D., Ph.D.
2002    Fourth Ward, Houston, Vol. 2003: The Texas State Historical Association and The General Libraries of the University of Texas at Austin.

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Gender and Resistance at North Bend Plantation:
The Beginnings of an Interdisciplinary Study of an Enslaved Community

By Kelley Deetz
Department of African American Studies
University of California at Berkeley

In April of 1849 an enslaved man named Billy was charged with poisoning his owner Thomas Wilcox, and ten years later a house servant was charged with poisoning Wilcox's son.[1] Although rare, this was one of the many modes of resistance practiced by enslaved African Americans. Thomas Wilcox owned North Bend Plantation, and was one of Charles City County's most elite men.

After the Transatlantic Slave Trade ended in 1808, and the Virginia tobacco industry declined, Virginia became known as the "Negro raising state," as planters began to "breed slaves" for the internal market. The booming cotton and Sugar industries of the 1830s in the southern United States, and Caribbean called for a rapid influx of enslaved labor. Virginia began to export thousands of enslaved African Americans, contributing to what is known as the "second middle passage." North Bend Plantation is located in Charles City County Virginia, roughly 20 miles east of Richmond. It was established in 1819, and by 1830 at least 80 enslaved African Americans lived on the property.[2] During the 1830s close to 17 percent of Charles City County's enslaved population was sold south by way of the Richmond internal slave market, and within a decade the population returned to its 1830 level.[3]

This historic moment invites many unanswered questions. Through my intended dissertation research I hope to answer the following: How did the enslaved community react to this rapid export of their fellow community and family members? Was there resistance or any form of agency within the enslaved community? How did gender play into this equation? What role did Nat Turner's rebellion play in who was exported and who stayed? Lastly, how does the rapid disruption of enslaved households show up in the archeological record? An interdisciplinary study of North Bend Plantations' enslaved community will shed light on these inquires, and provide a better understanding of enslaved life during the mid 19th century.

North Bend Plantation is located on the historic Weyanoke tract in Charles City County. All of the landowners at North Bend were prominent figures in the Charles City County social circles. The families at North Bend plantation socialized with the elite communities of Sherwood Forrest, Shirley, Belle Aire, Evelynton, and Berkeley Plantations.[4] The Minge family owned this land as early as 1785. Dr. John Minge established North Bend Plantation in 1819, and finished the erection of the main house by 1820. Minge continued to live at North Bend until 1832 when he subdivided the total acreage between his two sons, James and John. John received the house and the surrounding 500 acres, which would be called Kittewan Creek from 1832-1850. Later in 1850, Minge sold the plantation to Mr. Thomas Wilcox who owned the land until his death in 1865, when it was sold to Mr. Joseph Allen of Richmond.[5] Currently, the land is owned and run by the Copland family, who are the descendants of John Minge.

North Bend Plantation archaeology
Current structure of the
main house at North Bend Plantation.

North Bend Plantation archaeology
Area of the quarter preserved in pastureland.

I have done preliminary historical research on the domestic slave trade and Charles City County, and I am anxious to continue my study. In the summer of 2005 I began the archeological testing at the North Bend Plantation slave quarter, and am in the process of evaluating the artifacts. The site is located in the middle of a horse pasture, where there were multiple cabins, and an overseer's house, all of which were torn down by the current owners in the early 1900s. I also plan to excavate the remains of an external kitchen, located on the far end of the plantation. The original smokehouse (including the saltbox), dairy house, well, and part of the icehouse still stand adjacent to the quarter. Luckily, the quarter was abandoned in the late 19th century, and its footprint has been preserved in the pasture, with no sign of farming, a plow zone, or alternative uses.

North Bend Plantation archaeology
Salt box that was located in the smokehouse.

Another aspect I hope to explore is that of the neighboring Black church. It was demolished sometime in the past 30 years. This church, called "Mapsico," was located on the neighboring Kittewan Plantation land, just under a mile from the North Bend Quarter. I am unaware of its date range, however, through interviews with the current landowners, I know some of the North Bend enslaved community attended it regularly, and baptized their children there. There are also church records beginning in the 1840s that cite the baptism of some of North Bend Plantation's enslaved community. Ms. Copland also stated that she knows there were many slave marriages in the quarter, and there should be records of them in the family papers.[6]

I intend to provide a thorough interdisciplinary study of this enslaved community. Approaching this site with the multiple perspectives gained from History, African Diaspora Studies, Religion, Gender Studies, Architecture, and Anthropology will provide a distinctive analysis of slavery and resistance in Antebellum Virginia. Much of the scholarship on the domestic slave trade in Virginia is firmly placed in history, and centers itself in the urban core of Richmond, and I hope to expand this work into the surrounding rural area. In addition, African Diaspora Studies encourages a grass roots approach to historical interpretation. I plan to interview the descendants of the enslaved community at North Bend plantation, and invite them to dig their ancestors' old homes. I believe that history is important for everyone, and should not be held hostage within the academy.

I also received the Gilder Lehrman Short-Term Residential Fellowship, which will enable me to read through the primary and secondary sources to collect information related to the enslaved community at North Bend Plantation. It will provide me with the necessary historical background of Charles City County, and North Bend Plantation before I conduct a thorough archeological study of the enslaved community in the summer of 2007.

In addition to archaeological and historical research, I also plan on examining the lasting memory of enslavement. By interviewing the diverse descendant communities of North Bend Plantation, I hope to expose the vastly different ways that enslavement lives in the residual memory of Charles City county residents. I also plan on exploring the different ways it is remembered through memorials and the tourist industry. The Copland family is extremely supportive of all my research. Ms. Copland had the land blessed by a local African American pastor, in order to gain forgiveness from the sins of her forefathers. This incredible act demonstrates the lasting effects of enslavement on the conscience of the current landowners, and begs for more inquiry.

North Bend Plantation archaeology
Jamiko Hercules digging test
units in the quarter August 2005

Lastly, I plan to organize a UC Berkeley field school through both the department of Archaeology and African American Studies, which will start in the summer of 2007. Cross listing this course with African American Studies will reach out to a section of the student body that rarely gets the opportunity or invitation to dig. It will also enable African American Studies majors to earn upper division credit within their major, and be exposed to the field of archaeology. In turn, I hope this will help increase the ridiculously low number of African American archaeologist. I plan on returning to North Bend Plantation this summer, and will be digging July through August. If anyone is interested in helping please contact me at No experience is necessary.


[1]. Robert L. Crewdson et al. Charles City County Virginia, An Official History, Four Centuries of the Southern Experience: Charles City County, Virginia, from the Age of Discovery to the Modern Civil Rights Struggle, ed. James P. Whittenburg and John M. Coski. (Salem, W. Va.: Don Mills, 1989) 65.

[2]. North Bend Plantation tour, from Unites States Census Records, 1830.

[3]. Crewdson, 61.

[4]. Crewdson, Chapter 8. and conversation with Copland family (August 2005).

[5]. United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form, 1989. From the Copland Family (current owners and descendants of original owners).

[6]. Interview with Ms. Copland August 2005.

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Montpelier Archaeology Department
Brief Progress Report 2004-2005

By Matthew Reeves
Director of Archaeology
Montpelier Archaeology Program

Madison Agricultural Complex (Home Quarter). Over the past two years, the Montpelier Archaeology Department (with assistance from the 2004 and 2005 James Madison University Field School) has made an unexpected discovery of the core Madison-era agricultural complex (1770s-1844). It is located just down the hill from the new Visitor Center and in its day consisted of three slave quarters, a tobacco barn and work area, a crafts complex (workshops for carpenters and coopers), and encompassed over 15 acres.

Montpeleier archaeology

What makes the craft complex such an important archaeological find is that since it has been abandoned in 1844 (when the Madisons sold the property) it has been completely undisturbed -- no plowing or 20th-century disturbances -- and used for pasture. Below 2-3 inches of sod, Montpelier archaeologists have uncovered the collapsed remains of slave cabins and the potential remains of a tobacco barn mentioned in an 1871 visitor account. This vast array of work and living sites is the only known example of an unplowed complex for field slaves in Virginia. Our initial excavations have been completed and we are seeking funds to interpret the sites with information panels. What makes this discovery very exciting for our interpretive program is this complex of sites is located less than 250 yards walking distance from the new visitor center -- making it an accessible destination where visitors can learn about the working heart of the Madison plantation.

This past fall, we completed intensive excavations at one of the quarters in this complex, known as the Tobacco Barn Quarter. Excavation units revealed a borrow pit, the location of two structure locations, and an extensive yard complex. Analysis of the finds from this quarter are currently underway.

Montpeleier archaeology

Excavations in the Mansion Basement. Over the past year and half, Montpelier archaeologists have completely an extensive archaeological investigation of the mansion cellar. Archaeologists discovered a wide array of deposits dating to the Madison era ranging from room partitions, evidence for floor treatments, and seven sub-floor pits that slaves used for storing vegetables, hearth ash (hearth ash was used for a variety of household uses in the 18th and 19th century including making soap and lye), and personal items. This archaeological evidence has provided important information to assign room use for five main areas of the cellar -- Dolley's kitchen, Nelly's kitchen, the servant's hall in the 1763 core, the Wine Cellar in the 1760 core, and the storage and servant hall in the 1797 addition. As in other areas of the house, the duPont's alterations in 1901 resulted in the preservation of all of these deposits -- in this case the entombment of the archaeological deposits vis-a-vis the pouring of a concrete floor over the 4250 square feet of space. Over the past two years, archaeologists jackhammered, hammered, and chiseled this concrete floor away and painstakingly excavated, recorded, photographed and drew all the features encountered beneath the concrete (click here to view an Adobe .pdf file with illustrations, and click the browser "back" button to return).

First Home of the Gilmore family at the Gilmore Farm. In July and August of 2005, the Montpelier Archaeology Department (with assistance of the 2005 State University of New York at Potsdam Field School) discovered what we believe is the first home built by the Gilmore family (George Gilmore being a former slave of James Madison). Evidence for the structure appears in a 1920 photograph of the cabin and back yard. When archaeologists placed excavation units in the area behind the cabin they found evidence for the chimney base for the structure and evidence for a chimney for a Confederate hut. Based on the archaeological finds, archaeologists believe that the when the Gilmores first moved onto the land in the late 1860s they might have disassembled a confederate hut and used the timbers and stone to build their initial residence. Once the Gilmore saved enough money to purchase the timbers for the present Gilmore Cabin, they disassembled the chimney of their initial home and used the stones for the present chimney at the cabin. Plans are being made to complete excavations in the back yard and reconstruct the Gilmore's initial home (which in later years was used for a workshop or a kitchen).

Montpeleier archaeology

Confederate Camps. Over the past four years, the Montpelier Archaeology Department has been busy studying and interpreting a series of Civil War camp sites that were occupied by Confederate troops during the Winter of 1863 and 1864. In 2005, the Montpelier Archaeology Department completed extensive surveys funded by the American Battlefield Protection Program. These surveys involved archaeological staff conducting close interval walk-over surveys of the properties 1700-acre woodlots to identify Civil War camp features. In these surveys, we identified nine regimental camps (containing over 1200 hut features), nine sites that were likely used for supporting the large number of troops occupying the property, and a military road laid out during the encampment. Last year we opened an interpretive walking trail that links one of these regimental camps to the Gilmore Farm -- telling the story of the harsh living conditions in a Confederate winter camp and the transition that slaves made after emancipation.).

For more information, please see Montpelier Archaeology's web site or contact Matthew Reeves, e-mail:

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2006 Archaeological Fieldschools
Addressing African Diaspora Subjects

Compiled By Christopher Fennell

The following fieldschool list includes announcements sent to me by the fieldschool directors and others listed on various directories. The fieldschool announcements that follow are presented below in alphabetic order by location, starting with those in North America, then two in the Caribbean, and one in Africa.

Carrie Christman, Dana Blount, and Cecilia Ayala excavating at New Philadelphia

North America

Simsbury, Connecticut. The sponsor states: "Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) announces its Summer 2006 Field School in Historical Archaeology, May 30-June 30, 2006, in Simsbury, Connecticut, directed by Dr. Warren R. Perry and Professor Gerald F. Sawyer. Our project will focus on the archaeology of the African Diaspora in southern New England. This field school takes place at the Phelps Tavern, an 18th-century landmark and home of the Simsbury Historical Society. We will excavate at the rear of the tavern in search of a possible 18th-century ell and/or outbuildings. The course can be taken for 3 or 6 credits, and either graduate or undergraduate credit is available. No prior field experience is necessary. Students will be introduced to field procedures, documentary research, and laboratory methods. On-campus housing can be arranged through the Office of Continuing Education at CCSU. For more information contact the Archaeology Laboratory for African and African Diaspora Studies (ALAADS) at 860.832.2813 or email"

Jacksonville, Florida. 2006 University of Florida Kingsley Plantation Archaeological Field School. Summer Session 1: May 15-June 23, 2006. Submitted by Dr. James M. Davidson, University of Florida at Gainesville. The field school sponsor states: "A six week University of Florida archaeological field school at Kingsley Plantation National Park, located just north of Jacksonville, Florida.

The Site: Kingsley Plantation derives its name from Zephaniah Kingsley, who lived on the site between 1814 and 1837. Kingsley was a slave trader and ship's captain, and continually imported fresh African born slaves to the plantation. Although he defended slavery as institution, his view was that it should not be in perpetuity. Defying convention, he took as a wife Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, a 13 year old enslaved girl from Senegal. Kingsley objected to the harsh and newly imposed laws regarding interracial marriage and biracial children that came with Florida's transition from Spanish to American jurisdiction, and subsequently moved his wife Anna and their three children to Haiti. After 1837, the plantation was owned by a number of individuals into the early 20th century. The extant slave quarters were built by Kingsley, and were occupied (at least partially) up to the 1890s.

National Park Service Agreements: I have permission to plan and implement an archaeological field school at Kingsley Plantation from John Whitehurst, Cultural Resources Manager at the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve, of which Kingsley Plantation is but one part. The on-site staff of Kingsley are very eager for additional archaeological investigations, to help in documenting and interpreting the site.

Previous Work/Historical Background: African-American archaeology, as a subfield of historical archaeology, was born in the late 1960s with the work of Charles Fairbanks, professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. In fact, the very first scientific excavation of a slave cabin, dug to explicitly address issues of slavery and African-American life, occurred at Kingsley Plantation in the summer of 1968. Dr. Fairbanks' field work was documented in a brief and largely descriptive report (1974). His research design was simple -- to document the then relatively unknown lives of enslaved peoples, and to search for Africanisms, or material objects indicative of African cultural retentions. Fairbanks failed to find such evidence, but did uncover basic evidence of slave life of the early 19th century.

Research goals: This field work will establish the base line for a long term (multi-year) research driven investigation of Kingsley Plantation, in addition to other plantations and African Diasporic sites within the greater region. Since this is envisioned as the first year of a multi-year project, the immediate goals of the field school are modest. Of first importance, students will receive training in controlled excavation, survey, mapping (with both total station and mechanical transit), geophysical prospecting, historic (and likely prehistoric) artifact identification, and artifact analysis. There will also be a series of afternoon/evening lectures and assigned readings on African American Archaeology. The second goal of this field school is to provide materials to contribute to graduate student Erika Roberts' Ph.D. dissertation, which will be a much needed reappraisal of "Plantation Archaeology," framed through an examination of the original 1968 work of Fairbanks (theoretical, methodological, and results), and its comparison to new data derived from this 2006 field school investigation. The preliminary plan is to excavate the floors of two of the 32 tabby wall slave cabins (one smaller family dwelling and one larger cabin belonging to a slave driver), employ geophysical prospecting to identify such discrete features (known archivally) as wells and privies (as well as relocate the lost slave cemetery); test one or more domestic features found, and sample the public areas at both the slave quarters and main house/kitchen. The research questions driving this work are many and will be evolving over time, but include issues of ethnic identity, spirituality, landscape and surveillance, domination and resistance, and the archaeological signatures of the transition from enslavement to emancipation within this plantation context.

Students: ideal number will be between 10 and 15. The enrollment will be capped at 15. Fees: as yet undetermined, but estimated to be between 150 and 300 dollars per student. These fees will cover food, ice, gas, and equipment (bags, photocopying, sharpies, etc). Lodging: still undecided. There are two camping options: at the state camp ground on Little Talbot Island (3 miles away), and possibly camping directly off site of the national park property, using the two adjacent residences on site as a home base for showers, cooking, meetings, etc." Contact information: Dr. James Davidson,

New Philadelphia, Illinois. May 23-July 28, 2006. NSF-REU. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland, and the Illinois State Museum. New Philadelphia is a rare example of a multi-racial early farming community on the nation's Midwestern frontier. The program will emphasize scientific methods and analyses in an ongoing long-term project at New Philadelphia. The field school web site states: "The New Philadelphia story is both compelling and unique. Many studies in historical archaeology that concentrate on African-American issues have focused on plantation life and the pre-emancipation era. The history of New Philadelphia is very different. It is a chronicle of racial uplift and centering on the success of an African-American family and their ability to survive and prosper in a racist society. In 1836, Frank McWorter, an African American who was born into slavery and later purchased his own freedom, acquired 42 acres of land in the sparsely populated area of Pike County, Illinois, situated in the rolling hills bounded by the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. He founded and platted a town, subdivided the property, and sold lots. McWorter used the revenues from his entrepreneurial efforts to purchase the freedom of sixteen family members, with a total expenditure of $14,000 – a remarkable achievement. Families of African American and European heritage moved to the town and created a multi-racial community. New Philadelphia likely served as a stopping place for the "Underground railroad" as enslaved African Americans fled northward escaping the oppression of southern plantations. The history of New Philadelphia serves as a rare example of a multi-racial early farming community on the nation's Midwestern frontier."

Field School web site:

Listing for this field school on

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Ascension Parish, Louisiana. Archaeological Field School investigation of slave cabins and kitchen area at L'Hermitage Plantation, site number 16AN24. Submitted by Dr. Paul Farnsworth, Louisiana State University. The sponsor states: "Site located in Ascension Parish between Darrow and Burnside, about a 35-40 minute drive from Louisiana State University campus. Anthropology 2016, "Field Methods in Archaeology," for undergraduate students without prior field experience; Anthropology 402, "Advanced Methods in Archaeology," for graduate students and undergraduate students with prior field experience. Summer Session B for six credit hours, June 12–July 14, 2006. Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm (9:00am to 4:00pm on site). Transportation expenses provided for carpools. Lab work will be carried out nearby when weather prevents field work.

Please contact Holly Tunkel at or Dr. Paul Farnsworth at with questions."

Parole, Maryland. June 5-July 14, 2006. University of Maryland. Excavations within the city will take place in Parole, the site of a Civil War prison camp, and a working- and middle-class African American neighborhood that developed during the 19th and 20th Centuries. The field school announcement states: "Excavations within the city will take place in Parole, the site of a Civil War prison camp, and a working- and middle-class African American neighborhood that developed during the 19th and 20th Centuries. As this will be our first work in the neighborhood, and excavations will be exploratory. This year excavations will also be conducted outside of the city, at the former plantation of Edward Lloyd on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, on Maryland's Wye River. This former plantation is where Frederick Douglass was enslaved as a boy, and is described in his autobiography My Bondage, My Freedom. Test excavations were carried out during the summer of 2005, and these verified the location of a former quarter for slaves and the existence of very rich archaeological deposits from Frederick Douglass' time. Intensive excavations at this site will begin during the summer of 2006, continuing this multi-year archaeological study."

Field School web site:

Listing for this field school on

Listing for this field school on AIA/AFOB:

Columbia, South Carolina. University of South Carolina Field School in Historical Archaeology. May 8-May 26, 2006. The field school sponsor states: "The University of South Carolina Department of Anthropology announces a field program of historical archaeological excavation and research. This intensive, three-week program devotes eight-hours each day to archaeological fieldwork, laboratory work, mapping, field notes, and interpretation.

Excavations are part of the Mann-Simons African American Archaeology Project, a multi-year program of archaeology in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. The Spring 2006 excavations take place at the Mann-Simons site (38RD1083), a collection of 19th-20th century urban African American households in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. As the first archaeological investigation of an African American owned site in Columbia, this is an exciting opportunity to contribute to our understanding of African American culture and identity on local and regional scales, as well as broader topics such as material consumption and landscape studies.

The first two days of the program includes lectures on archaeological methods, history, and material culture studies. Throughout the course, guest scholars will speak on the archaeology and history of Columbia and the Southeast. Students learn artifact identification by working with USC type collections and artifacts from the Mann-Simons site. During the following weeks, students learn the methods and skills that comprise archaeological fieldwork and laboratory work by working hands-on in their own excavation unit."

Field School web site:

Contact information:
Jakob Crockett (
Department of Anthropology
University of South Carolina
Hamilton College, Room 317
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone: (803) 777-6500

Monticello, Virginia. Chesapeake Slavery and Landscape. June 5-July 14, 2006. Monticello's Department of Archaeology and the University of Virginia. Our fieldwork addresses changing patterns of land use and settlement on Thomas Jefferson's, Monticello Plantation from about 1750 to 1860. The field school web site states: "Our fieldwork addresses changing patterns of land use and settlement on Thomas Jefferson's, Monticello Plantation from c. 1750 to 1860, along with their ecological and social causes and consequences. Toward the end of the 18th century, spurred by shifts in the Atlantic economy, Thomas Jefferson and planters across the Chesapeake region replaced tobacco cultivation with a more diversified agricultural regime, based around wheat. Our research is revealing the enormous implications of this shift for what the landscape looked like and how enslaved African-Americans worked and lived on it. Significant questions remain about the ecological processes that were unleashed, how they were experienced by slaves and slave owners, and the importance of changing slave work routines in explaining social dynamics among enslaved and free people. Field School students will focus on two major efforts during the summer of 2004. The first is the exploration of how the domestic lives of slaves changed during the shift from tobacco to wheat cultivation. The second is devoted to documenting the ecological effects of agricultural change."

Field School web site:

Listing for this field school on

Listing for this field school on AIA/AFOB:

Poplar Forest, Virginia. June 4-July 7, 2006. Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest and the University of Virginia. In the summer of 2006, field school participants will excavate an early nineteenth-century building complex, believed to be associated with plantation work spaces and possibly slave quarters, adjacent to Jefferson's ornamental grounds. The field school web site states: "The field school provides a foundation in current methods and theories of historical archaeology, and offers a solid introduction to the practical skills of site survey, excavation, recording, and laboratory procedures. Students will actively participate in our ongoing interpretation of archaeology to the public. In the summer of 2006, field school participants will excavate an early nineteenth-century building complex, believed to be associated with plantation work spaces and possibly slave quarters, adjacent to Jefferson's ornamental grounds."

Field School web site:

Listing for this field school on

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Falmouth, Jamaica. July 17-August 7, 2006. Murray State University and University of Virginia field schools. One field school in the historic town of Falmouth, Jamaica, directed by Dr. Kit Wesler of Murray State University. Falmouth is the best-preserved Georgian town in Jamaica, founded in the 1770s and relatively undeveloped since the mid-19th century. This field school will begin an investigation of the community, with a long-term plan to excavate in areas representing a cross-section of the community. Second field school conducted by Dr. Louis Nelson of the University of Virginia, who writes: "This summer, I'm running a three-week historic preservation field school in Falmouth through the UVA study abroad program where we will be examining, recording and preserving the historic built environment of the town -- everything from merchant houses to much smaller free black houses. The UVA program runs together with [the] historical archaeological field school also in Falmouth run by Kit Wesler."

Field School web sites: and

Listing for this field school on AIA/AFOB:


Swahili Culture, Coastal Kenya. July 28-August 28, 2005. Rutgers University and National Museum of Kenya. The Field School offers a unique opportunity for students to learn about Swahili culture, history and language as well as study the peoples living along the coast of Kenya today. The field school web site states: "Are you interested in understanding how a melange of Arabic, Persian and indigenous African peoples came together to create the Swahili culture? Are you fascinated by subtle interplays of tradition, religion, ethnicity, trade, tourism, economy and modernity? Does the prospect of studying art, architecture, and history at World Heritage/National Museums of Kenya sites with museum personnel excite you? Then join us and travel to the Kenyan coastal cities of Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu for a 4 week summer program."

Field School web site:

Listing for this field school on

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New Book

Archaeology of Liberty in an American Capital: Excavations in Annapolis
By Mark P. Leone
University of California Press, 320 pp., illustrations. 2005.

Leone book cover
Description from the Publisher:

What do archaeological excavations in Annapolis, Maryland, reveal about daily life in the city's history? Considering artifacts such as ceramics, spirit bundles, printer's type, and landscapes, this engaging, generously illustrated, and original study illuminates the lives of the city's residents -- walking, seeing, reading, talking, eating, and living together in freedom and in oppression for more than three hundred years. Interpreting the results of one of the most innovative projects in American archaeology, The Archaeology of Liberty in an American Capital speaks powerfully to the struggle for liberty among African Americans and the poor.

About the author: Mark P. Leone is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is coauthor, with Neil A. Silberman, of Invisible America (1995), and coeditor, with Parker B. Potter, of Recovery of Meaning: Historical Archaeology in the Eastern United States (1988), among other books.

Advance praise -- "The Archaeology of Liberty in an American Capital is the work of a mature scholar reporting on one of the most important, large-scale, and long-range projects in contemporary American archaeology" -- Randall McGuire, author of The Archaeology of Inequality. "Many would argue the Mark Leone is the most distinguished practitioner of historical archaeology in the United States, and one of the most prominent in the world" -- Thomas C. Patterson, coeditor of Making Alternative Histories.

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New Book

Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links
By Gwendolyn Midlo Hall
University of North Carolina Press, 248 pp., illustrations. 2005.

Leone book cover
Description from the Publisher:

Enslaved peoples were brought to the Americas from many places in Africa, but a large majority came from relatively few ethnic groups. Drawing on a wide range of materials in four languages as well as on her lifetime study of slave groups in the New World, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identities among the enslaved over four hundred years of the Atlantic slave trade.

Hall traces the linguistic, economic, and cultural ties shared by large numbers of enslaved Africans, showing that despite the fragmentation of the diaspora many ethnic groups retained enough cohesion to communicate and to transmit elements of their shared culture. Hall concludes that recognition of the survival and persistence of African ethnic identities can fundamentally reshape how people think about the emergence of identities among enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Americas, about the ways shared identity gave rise to resistance movements, and about the elements of common African ethnic traditions that influenced regional creole cultures throughout the Americas.

About the author: Gwendolyn Midlo Hall is Distinguished Research Fellow, Southern University System, and International Advisory Board Member of the Harriet Tubman Resource Center on the African Diaspora at York University, Toronto. She is author of a CD and website database on Afro-Louisiana history and genealogy as well as of several books, including Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century and Social Control in Slave Plantation Societies: A Comparison of St. Domingue and Cuba.

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New Book

Diasporic Africa: A Reader
Edited By Michael A. Gomez
New York University Press, 352 pp., illustrations. 2005.

Gomez book cover
Description from the Publisher:

Diasporic Africa presents the most recent research on the history and experiences of people of African descent outside of the African continent. By incorporating Europe and North Africa as well as North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean, this reader shifts the discourse on the African diaspora away from its focus solely on the Americas, underscoring the fact that much of the movement of people of African descent took place in Old World contexts. This broader view allows for a more comprehensive approach to the study of the African diaspora.

The volume provides an overview of African diaspora studies and features as a major concern a rigorous interrogation of "identity." Other primary themes include contributions to western civilization, from religion, music, and sports to agricultural production and medicine, as well as the way in which our understanding of the African diaspora fits into larger studies of transnational phenomena.

About the editor: Michael Gomez is professor of history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University. He is the author of Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South.

Advance praise -- "This sparkling mosaic of thought from the African Diaspora redraws the boundaries of relevant scholarship to the benefit of a wide array of students and scholars. A greatly needed volume" -- Sterling Stuckey, Presidential Chair and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, University of California at Riverside. "A valuable contribution to a vision of the African diaspora as intricately linked to specific histories, cultures and societies of Africa, both in the era of slavery and within the context of pan-Africanism" -- Paul E. Lovejoy, Director, Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora, York University, Toronto.

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Final Report:
New York African Burial Ground Project

Submitted by Jean Howson

Map of the Eighteenth Century African Burial Ground, Maerschalck Plan (1755).
Eighteenth century map

The final archaeology report for the New York African Burial Ground Project is now available on the web site of the General Services Administration, at:

The "Reports" section of this web site presents the final report and past reports in Adobe .pdf format, as well as detailed tables of contents with links to individual chapters within each report. Many illustrations, artifact photographs, the inventory, drawings of each burial excavated, numerous tables with data on every burial, and a study of the 18th century New York stoneware that was strewn all over the site, are included. The report is co-edited by archaeologists Warren R. Perry and Jean Howson and cultural anthropologist Barbara A. Bianco. Contributors include Leonard Bianchi, Chris DeCorse, Augustin Holl and others.

Students Researching into Techiman Ancient Remains

By GNA News Service

January 18, 2006

Article posted online by the
GNA and at:
Copyright 2006 GNA.

Techiman (B/A) Jan. 18, GNA - Fifty three students of the Archaeology Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, are on a 10-day working visit to the Techiman Municipality to excavate tombs, especially ancient remains.

The students, led by Dr. Kodzo Gavua, head of the department, Mr. James Boachie-Ansa, director of research and two technicians of the Department, would research and develop the relics of the area and stock them at a museum at Nsemankwa Cultural Village at Takofiano in the municipality.

The Nsemankwa cultural village is said to be the origin of the Fantes before they migrated to the coastal areas of the country. Speaking at a durbar to welcome the students, Nana Baffour Asare Twi-Brempong, Adontenhene of Techiman traditional area, through whose efforts the students would develop the cultural village, said Techiman had become a haven for business establishments. Nana Twi-Brempong said a five-acre land had been set aside for the development of the Nsemankwa cultural village and mentioned cultural sites in the municipality including Boten caves, sacred fish in the Tano River, Bat caves, Kristo Boase Monastery and the burial sites of the late Lords of Techiman, among others.

Oseadeeyo Akumfi-Ameyaw, Omanhene of Techiman Traditional Area, thanked the department for the assistance to develop the cultural values of Techiman. He said Techiman as the seat of ancient Bono Kingdom, was established more than 800 years ago and that some of its people were now domiciled in Fante land, Osu-Alata in Accra, Jaman district in Brong Ahafo and La Cote D'Ivoire. He called on elders to help support the students in the development of the relics of the great Kingdom.

Dr. Gavua said the department was not restricted to the campus alone as there was the need to go to the field as a challenge for the students to ensure that Ghanaian culture was respected instead of copying foreign cultural values. He presented two books of the research on the History of Techiman written by the late Dr. Effah Gyamfi of the University to the Omanhene.

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New Law to Protect Morocco Antiquities against Illicit Dealers

By Morocco Times

January 21, 2006

Article posted online by the
Morocco Times at:
Copyright 2006 Morocco Times.

The Minister of Culture, Mohamed Achaari, underlined to members of the House of Representatives that the new law they adopted Tuesday would protect antiquities against illicit dealers.

"The illicit dealing in antiquities is a universal phenomenon, favoured by certain parties who buy stolen objects," said the minister. "A text authorizing police intervention to protect the national heritage will be promulgated," continued Achaari.

The law project 19/05 modifies and completes law 22/08 concerning the conservation of historic monuments and sites, inscriptions, objects of art and antiquities. But this law only affects movable art objects and antiquities which will be protected against destruction, such as manuscripts. Sanctions vary between fines and imprisonment, according to the nature of the offence.

Historic monuments however, remain governed by the old legislation. There is thus a flagrant juridical void in this field. The delay is due, amongst other things, to the lack of studies and coordination between the concerned parties. These should join their efforts to fight against the illicit trade which threatens the nations' cultural goods and identity, and which is increasing in Morocco. In effect, our country lies at the crossroads of civilizations between the West, the East and Africa.

The phenomenon has taken on worrying proportions in recent years. Buyers have recourse to illegal means to obtain, documents, manuscripts, objects of art, ethnology and archaeology. Excavations on several archaeological sites have had to be stopped for lack of protection. Many national manuscripts have been sold illegally. "Diplomatic bags and private travel are a means of exporting them," the Minister of Culture did not hesitate to declare during a recent study day on this theme.

Morocco is not the only country affected. Even the richest states, equipped with the most sophisticated security systems, suffer from important thefts from public museums and private collections, as well as illegal excavations on protected archaeological sites.

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African Burial Ground in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

By Emily Aronson

January 21, 2006

Article posted online by the
Portsmouth Herald at:
Copyright 2006 Portsmouth Herald.

Evidence suggests slavery at African burial ground.

Physical evidence from the site of an African burial ground dating back to the 1700s supports the belief that the people buried there were slaves, an archaeological report has revealed.

A more than 100-page study by Independent Archaeological Consulting said that one of the eight bodies unearthed from the former cemetery on Chestnut Street showed signs of repetitive forearm rotation and possible inflammation in the right leg.

Archaeologists said this is "presumably from repeated shoveling, heavy lifting or other strenuous work."

"The discovery of a burial ground permits us to partially reconstruct the demographics of enslaved Africans of the 1700s," the report said.

Senior researcher Ellen Marlatt said any information archaeologists can gather about the remains is essential because the site is the only known African-American cemetery of its age in New England. [read more >>>].

Evidence Unearthed of Earliest African Slaves in the New World

By Terry Devitt

January 31, 2006

Article posted online by the
University of Wisconsin-Madison at:
Copyright 2006 University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Illustration by Barry Carlsen for U. Wisconsin

In the early European histories of the New World, there are numerous accounts of African slaves accompanying explorers and colonists.

Now, digging in a colonial era graveyard in one of the oldest European cities in Mexico, archaeologists have found what they believe are the oldest remains of slaves brought from Africa to the New World. The remains date between the late-16th century and the mid-17th century, not long after Columbus first set foot in the Americas.

Skeletons of Africans were found in the cemetery in Campeche, Mexico.

The discovery is to be reported in an upcoming edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology by a team of researchers from UW-Madison and the Autonomous University of the Yucatan.

The African origin of the slaves was determined through the reading of telltale signatures locked at birth into the tooth enamel of individuals by strontium isotopes, a chemical which enters the body through the food chain as nutrients pass from bedrock through soil and water to plants and animals. The isotopes found in the teeth are an indelible signature of birthplace, as they can be directly linked to the bedrock of specific locales, giving archaeologists a powerful tool to trace the migration of individuals on the landscape. [read more >>>].

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Call for Papers:
America's 400th Anniversary: Voices from Within the Veil

Posted on H-Slavery, H-Net Discussion Group (March, 2006).

Date: February 22-23, 2007.
CFP Deadline: June 15, 2006.

Norfolk State University (VA) has been selected by the Federal Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission as one of the major State institutions that will collectively honor the anniversary of our nation's beginnings in 1607. Our primary contribution will be a two-day national conference on February 22-23, 2007 which will highlight the theme, "America's 400th Anniversary: Voices from Within the Veil."

The national conference in Norfolk, VA will be hosted by NSU's History Department, Honors Program, and Center for Global Education, and it will seek to foster a multi-disciplinary dialogue among scholars on the issue of African American rights within the context of United States history. At the conference's core will be discussions about the historical significance and experiences of this minority group in America and how laws and customs have defined them separately from the majority populace. The historical understanding of the role minorities in general have placed in defining who is and who is not an American underlies the country's true legacy as the world's first democracy. It is that history that continues to influence the United States' domestic and international policies regarding immigration, humanitarian funding and intervention, and accessibility to technology, civil rights, wealth, and civic enterprise.

Papers may be directed toward such Conference issues as:
African American civil rights, past and present;
Implicit and explicit promises of democracy since Jamestown;
Impact of the ever-changing definition of the word "citizen" on African Americans;
Artistic expressions of American democracy from minority perspectives;
Negotiating and determining core canonical texts;
Democracy and health care access for minorities;
Access to democracy and the digital divide;
Voting and voting rights;
Immigration and race in American culture;
Impact of terrorism on minorities in American society;
Intersections between African Americans and other groups in America;
Religion and democracy;
Images of African Americans in the media;
African Americans and the rise of capitalism and democracy;
Economic success in America : myths and realities;
Booker T. Washington versus W. E. B. DuBois: modern ramifications;
Double consciousness and political loyalties;
Global imprints of African American culture;
Global implications of the African American civil rights movement;
Laying the framework for the next 400 years: lessons learned and plan of action;
Literary, dramatic, and musical expressions of democracy for African Americans.

Abstracts may be submitted no later than June 15, 2006. Abstracts should not exceed 1,800 characters (about 250 words) and should clearly define the targeted theme. Each presenting author will be notified by July 1, 2006 whether the abstract has been accepted. For inclusion in the final program, the presenting author is required to register for the conference no later than October 30, 2006.

Abstract Review and Selection Criteria: The Conference Steering Committee will review all abstracts and evaluate them on their relevance to the conference theme. All submissions will be acknowledged and all potential presenters will receive notification of the final disposition of their paper. Certain papers will be selected for inclusion in the Conference proceedings. For further information and forms, please access our Conference website:

Please send your completed submission form by June 15, 2006 to: Dr. William Alexander, Professor, Department of History, Norfolk State University, 700 Park Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23504;; 757-823-9073 (office); 657-823-2302 (fax).

For further information, contact: Dr. Charles Ford, Department of History, Norfolk State University, 700 Park Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23504.

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Call for Papers:
Joint Conference of the
Society of Early Americanists and the
Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

Posted on H-OIEAHC, H-Net Discussion Group (January, 2006).

Call for Session Proposals: SEA's fifth Biennial and Omohundro Institute's thirteenth Annual Conference, Williamsburg, June 2007.

The Society of Early Americanists and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture are holding a joint conference, SEA's fifth biennial and the Institute's thirteenth annual, on June 7-10, 2007, in Williamsburg, Virginia. This interdisciplinary conference will take place on the campus of the College of William and Mary. We are taking the opportunity of the four hundredth anniversary of Jamestown's settlement and the resulting intersections of cultures and peoples to create an ecumenical venue for cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration. The program committee, co-chaired by Dennis Moore and Fredrika J. Teute, solicits session proposals broadly conceived to facilitate this goal.

Meetings of both organizations are intended to reflect the broad interests and diverse membership of scholars engaged in the study of early America and are especially open to graduate students and faculty in the early stages of their careers. Indeed, the two organizations share a number of members in common. The Society of Early Americanists was formed by a group of literary scholars in the first part of the 1990s as an organization for early Americanists from all fields. Its purpose is to further the exchange of ideas and information among scholars of various disciplines who study the literature and culture of America to approximately 1800. The Institute encourages the study of the early history and cultures of North America from ca. 1450 to 1820, including related developments in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Africa -- in short, any subject encompassing the Atlantic world in that period. For more information, see and

The program committee invites proposals for panels on any early American topic, and we look for innovative approaches and themes; multiple disciplinary participation; comparisons among different European, indigenous, and African cultures, literatures, and peoples; considerations of imperial, colonial, and transnational historical formations and cultural identities. Although the program committee will consider proposals for sessions fully formed, we especially encourage open session proposals that follow the SEA model: Individuals submit conceptual rationales (themes or theoretical problems) for panels for which presenters have not yet been selected.

In June 2006, the open panels selected by the committee will be posted on both the OIEAHC's and SEA's websites, along with a call for papers to fill those sessions, which will also be disseminated on the organizations' respective listservs. Potential paper presenters will submit their proposals to specific panel organizers, who will be responsible for filling their sessions. Individuals who wish to propose a paper but do not see an appropriate panel may submit a proposal directly to the program committee. The committee has the prerogative to organize sessions and make changes to the overall configuration of panels. To enable widespread participation in the conference, we will allow only one substantive appearance by a scholar, either presenting a paper or giving a comment; however, a scholar may, in addition, chair a separate session.

Panel proposals must be submitted by the panel organizer. They should include a brief description of the rationale of no more than 250 words, along with a one-page c.v. for the organizer. If the proposal is for a completed session, please include a summary of each paper and a c.v. for each presenter. All c.v.'s should include mailing and e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. The deadline for proposals is March 31, 2006. They will be accepted by e-mail at If mailed, they must be postmarked by the deadline and fourteen copies of all materials sent to Mendy Gladden, OIEAHC, P.O. Box 8781, Williamsburg, VA 23187.

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Call for Papers:
International Efforts to Abolish the Atlantic Slave Trade

Posted on H-Atlantic and H-Africa, H-Net Discussion Groups (December, 2005).

Call for Papers "'The bloody Writing is for ever torn': Domestic and International Consequences of the First Governmental Efforts to Abolish the Atlantic Slave Trade." Ghana, Aug. 8-12, 2007.

On August 8-12, 2007, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, in cooperation with UNESCO, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, the Reed Foundation, Inc., and the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, will convene a major international conference in Ghana, West Africa. The aim of the meeting is to examine the national and international contexts of the transatlantic slave trade at the end of the eighteenth century; the circumstances that led to decisions by some of the trade's original instigators and greatest beneficiaries to outlaw participation in it; and the social, political, economic, and cultural consequences for all the inhabitants-slave and free-of the kingdoms and nations involved, of actions that ultimately abolished one of the pillars of Atlantic commerce.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century the slave trade had become a vital engine of the Atlantic economy. Although voices in opposition to the commerce in human cargo had been raised as early as the sixteenth century, it was not until the 1780s that a constellation of humanitarian, economic, and ideological forces combined with the determined resistance of those in slavery to challenge its legitimacy. Acknowledging the inherent evil of this lucrative "traffick" and no longer able to ignore the struggles against bondage, such as that mounted in Haiti 1793-1804, the governments of several Atlantic world nations initiated policies, between 1787 and 1807, to make participation in the trade illegal. The goals of this conference are twofold: first, to explicate the domestic and international forces in play when the first decisions to end the transatlantic slave trade were made, and second, to examine and illuminate the short- and long-term consequences for Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and North America of these initial attempts to end further transportation of captives from Africa.

The conference's thematic focus on transatlantic slavery should be understood to include the trade's global reach. Hence, the topics to be addressed will include how the development and implementation of abolition in the Atlantic World affected the commerce in human beings in other regions, such as trans-Saharan Africa, the Indian Ocean littoral, and the Mediterranean. The consequences of the slave trade's legacies for racism, colonialism, and other relevant political, economic, and cultural patterns will be examined as well.

The conference will be multi-disciplinary, and the program committee welcomes proposals from scholars in all appropriate fields-history, historical anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and social sciences. Please submit written proposals of three to five pages outlining the subject, argument, and relevance to the conference themes. Proposals for individual papers and for panels are welcome; submissions may be in English, French, or Portuguese. Include curriculum vitae. Send five (5) hard copies or an email attachment to: Ghana Conference, OIEAHC, P.O. Box 8781, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8781; The deadline for proposals is June 30, 2006.

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Material Reflections of Georgia's African-American Past.
Symposium, May 20, 2006

Submitted by J. W. Joseph.

The Society for Georgia Archaeology is pleased to present a symposium on the material culture of Georgia's African-American past at its 2006 Spring meeting. This symposium brings together archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians to look at African-American life in Georgia through the landscapes, structures, crafts and objects that African-Americans created and employed. While African-American history was not well recorded, the material legacy of Georgia's African-American communities is particularly rich. Papers in this session will address the landscapes of African-American households and communities from plantations, tenant sites, and urban locations; African-American building techniques and architecture, including recent discoveries from the Ford Plantation and Ossabaw Island; African-American crafts and industry, including Colonoware, a pottery reflecting the interaction of African-American and Native Americans that is found on Colonial coastal plantations; and the archaeology of African-American sites, including excavations on both freed and enslaved sites, in both rural and urban locations, and from the Colonial era into the late 19th century. This will be a fascinating look at the African-American experience in the state and will present a number of projects and findings that have not been made public before.

The symposium will be held at the Auburn Avenue Research Library, 101 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, on May 20th from 9AM until 4:30 PM. The Auburn Avenue Research Library is devoted to reference and archival collections on African cultures and the African-American experience and has exceptional collections and facilities – for more information, visit the library's website at The AARL is in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn District, one of the most significant places in African-American life in the South, and home to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Ebenezer Baptist Church, the APEX museum on African American History, and many other sites. Visit for more information. The symposium is open to the public. For further information, please contact Dr. J. W. Joseph, symposium chair, at or (770) 498-4155, x102.

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Slavery, Enlightenment, and Revolution
in Colonial Brazil and Spanish America

Posted on H-Slavery, H-Net Discussion Group (March, 2006).

Date: May 5th, 2006.
Location: Fordham University, Bronx, Rose Hill campus.

The rich scholarship produced during the recent bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution demonstrated that there was no decisive turning point in the fate of New World slavery. The revolutionary upheavals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in which slavery figured centrally, had uneven consequences. Destroyed in Haiti and weakened in much of Spanish America, slavery, and the slave trade, nonetheless flourished in other corners of the Americas, such as Brazil and Cuba. Enlightened attitudes towards bonded labor in the Americas were also complex. While many philosophers condemned the institution for its inhuman violence or for its inferiority to waged labor, others contemplated how slavery meshed with contemporary innovations in political economy. The participants in this one-day conference will explore the complicated impact of the intellectual, political, and economic transformations of the Age of Revolution on slavery in colonial Brazil and Spanish America. Among the subjects they will address are popular and elite forms of antislavery sentiment, representations of slave-worked landscapes, and justifications of slavery in times of revolution.

Stuart Schwartz, Yale University, "Questioning Slavery and Accepting Africa: Dissidence, Tolerance, and Syncretism in the Iberian Atlantic World."

Michael Zeuske, University of Cologne, "Alexander Humboldt and the Newly Found Humboldt Diaries (1804) about Slavery in Cuba."

Rafael Marquese, University of São Paolo, "The Absence of Race: Slavery, Citizenship, and Pro-slavery Ideology in the Cortes of Lisbon and in the Constitutional Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (1821-1824)."

Dale Tomich, Binghamton University, "Making Plantation Landscapes: Material Processes, Social Practices and the Cuban Sugar-Mill, 1820-1868."

Astrid Cubano-Iguina, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, "Slavery on Hacienda La Esperanza, Manatí, Puerto Rico, on the Eve of Abolition, 1860s-1870s."

Sponsored by Fordham University's Latin American and Latino Studies Institute, Department of History, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, and Dean of the College at Rose Hill.

For more information, contact Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, Associate Professor of History, Fordham University. Email:; tel: 212.636.7221 or 347.387.1665.

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Conference: Race and Pedagogy

Posted on H-Afro-Am, H-Net Discussion Group (February, 2006).

Date: Sept. 14-16, 2006.

The University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA) will host a conference on Race and Pedagogy with a kickoff by Prof. Cornel West on Sept. 14-16, 2006. The conference will bring together scholars, teachers, and students as well as community partners to discuss the pedagogical implications of race in higher education, particularly but not exclusively in institutions and programs oriented towards a liberal education in the arts and sciences. Refining, extending, and questioning our understanding of the pedagogical implications of race is critical if we are to improve the racial-cultural experiences of all our students and prepare our students for citizenship and leadership in a diverse world where race continues to matter.

The conference planning committee encourages teachers, scholars, and students across disciplines (e.g. humanities, social sciences, physical sciences) with an interest in race and pedagogy to examine the three themes which will guide the conference. We hope that you will recognize areas of interest and/or concern in these themes, and will consider joining us as either presenters and/or participants. In addition to invited speakers and panels, the conference will include refereed panels, papers, and poster sessions. Confirmed plenary speakers include Prof. Lucius Outlaw and Dr. Beverly Daniels Tatum. For a list of confirmed speakers/participants, a more extensive discussion of the conference¹s three themes, and specific submission guidelines, please visit the conference web site at

Race, Knowledge, and Disciplinarity: This theme explores the ways in which specific academic disciplines negotiate the issue of race and the ways in which race enables and/or constrains the production of knowledge.

Racial Dynamics and Racial Performances in the Classroom (and beyond). This theme explores the ways in which students and teachers embody and perform race, and the ways in which racial dynamics affect behavior inside and outside the classroom.

Race, Pedagogy, and Community: This theme explores the ways in which students, teachers, administrators, and the educational institutions which they collectively constitute are situated within or in relation to broader communities.

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Transformations: The Atlantic World in the Late Seventeenth Century

Posted on H-Atlantic, H-Net Discussion Group (January, 2006).

TRANSFORMATIONS: The Atlantic World in the Late Seventeenth Century. Harvard University. March 30-April 1, 2006.

The Atlantic History Seminar will host a conference on the transformations that overtook the Atlantic World in the late seventeenth century. A distinguished group of speakers, approaching the topic from different angles and using different materials, will address the issue in relation to many spheres of life among the Atlantic peoples. Speakers will include Kenneth Banks, Kathleen Brown, Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, Alan Gallay, David Hancock, Linda Heywood, Jonathan Israel, Jane Landers, Nabil Matar, Jennifer Morgan, Steven Pincus, Daniel Richter, Pamela Smith, John Thornton, and Lorena Walsh.

Historians and scholars in related fields at all stages of their careers are invited to attend and join in the discussions. Travel and accommodation expenses will be the responsibility of attendees. There is no fee, but pre-registration by February 28, 2006, is required; a form is available on the Conference Web site The complete program and local arrangements details will also be posted there as soon as they become available.

Organized by Bernard Bailyn, Karen Kupperman, Joseph Miller, and Mark Peterson, the Conference is co-sponsored by the Atlantic History Seminar at Harvard University, the Atlantic History Program at New York University, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the South Atlantic Humanities Center at the University of Virginia, and the Colonies Seminar at the University of Iowa.

Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance
Postdoctoral Fellowships at the Gilder Lehrman Center, 2006-2007

Posted on H-OIEAHC, H-Net Discussion Group (March, 2006).

Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance Postdoctoral Fellowships at the Gilder Lehrman Center. The Gilder Lehrman Center, an initiative of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, is pleased to announce the Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance Fellowship Program for the academic year 2006-2007. The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition (GLC) seeks to promote a better understanding of all aspects of the institution of slavery from the earliest times to the present. Our particular focus is on the Atlantic slave system and its destruction, including Africans' resistance to enslavement, black and white abolitionist movements, and the comparative study of the ways in which chattel slavery finally became outlawed around the world. The GLC coordinates annual international and interdisciplinary conferences, lectures, educational outreach, publications and other activities to bring together scholars and students from across the spectrum of slavery studies.

The Fellowship Program is designed to support established and younger scholars in researching projects that can be linked to the aims of the GLC. Three-month fellowships with a stipend of $10,000 each, and one-month fellowships with a stipend of $3,000 each are available for the academic year. Scholars currently holding the Ph.D. are invited to apply for either term of fellowship. Fellows will be expected to participate in the intellectual life of the GLC and the larger Yale community, and to acknowledge the support of the GLC and the Yale Center for International and Area Studies in publications and lectures that stem from research conducted during the fellowship term. In addition, Fellows will be expected to offer one public lecture during their tenure at Yale. Additional lectures may be scheduled with mutual agreement and interest but would not be required.

These fellowships provide access to the research facilities of Yale University, to a broad range of related regional research collections, and to the Gilder Lehrman Collection in New York City. Collections accessible to the Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance Fellows of the Gilder Lehrman Center include: Sterling Memorial Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Seeley G. Mudd Library, Divinity School Library (including the Day Missions Library), Lewis-Walpole Library, New Haven Colony Historical Society, Connecticut Historical Society, Mystic Seaport, Gilder Lehrman Collection on deposit at the New-York Historical Society, New-York Historical Society, New York Public Library (including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, and Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center.

Applications for appointment as Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition Fellows of the Gilder Lehrman Center, in either three-month or one-month categories, should include the following: * Evidence of completion of the Ph.D., together with a statement of the date on which the degree is to be conferred. If the degree is not conferred by the projected date, the postdoctoral appointment shall be terminated. * A curriculum vitae, including detailed contact information, date of birth, place of birth, and a list of publications. * Two letters of recommendation. * A three-to-four-page proposal of the research project, including proposed time of residence.

The application deadline is April 3, 2006 for the Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 semesters. Completed applications should be returned to: Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale Center for International and Area Studies, Attn: Fellowships, P.O. Box 208206, New Haven, CT 06520-8206; Website: E-mail:

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Editor's Note on Book Reviews

I often publish selected book reviews in this newsletter from H-Net, the Humanities and Social Sciences Online service, which makes such reviews available for reproduction for educational purposes. After a lengthy delay in publishing new book reviews in the autumn of 2005, H-Net posted numerous reviews of books on African diaspora subjects over the past couple of months. I have reproduced two of those reviews below. Many others are available on the H-Net Reviews web site -- Chris Fennell.

Book Review

DuBois book cover

Published by H-Caribbean, (November, 2005).

Laurent Dubois. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. 437 pp. Chronology, glossary, maps, illustrations, index. $22.50 (paper), ISBN 0-8078-5536-7.

Reviewed for H-Caribbean by Stewart R. King, Mount Angel Seminary.

In A Colony of Citizens, Laurent Dubois has given us a fascinating account of the revolution in Guadeloupe. The history of the abortive abolition of slavery in Guadeloupe has attracted some attention in French scholarly circles, thanks to the recently passed 2002 bicentennial of the re-imposition of slavery there.[1] To the extent that students of Latin America in the English-speaking world have noticed the revolutions in the French West Indies at all, the tendency has been to pay attention to the striking example of Saint-Domingue and assume that conditions in other colonies paralleled those found in the "pearl of the Antilles."

Laurent Dubois's work provides needed contrast to our easy over-generalization. For Guadeloupe was not Saint-Domingue. First, of course, the outcome was different -- Saint-Domingue's slaves became Haiti's citizens, peasant farmers, and sometime laborers in the first black republic. Meanwhile, Guadeloupe's slaves, after a brief, shining moment as "new citizens" of France, went back to slavery until 1848. Saint-Domingue's white rulers were slaughtered or driven out of the colony, to spend their declining years playing up their victimization at the hands of barbarous slave rebels and pressuring the French government for reimbursement for their lost "property." Guadeloupe's white ruling class forced the slaves back into their chains, returned to plantation farming, and to prosperity, for a while. And Saint-Domingue's intermediate class of free people of color, after vacillating between pressing for equal treatment within the plantation system and support for the black revolutionaries, generally took their place at the head of the rebel armies and entered the era of independence as a new ruling class. Guadeloupean free coloreds participated in the struggles for equal rights, first for their own class, then for all people of African descent. Ultimately, though, they were defeated and ended up being oppressed even more brutally than before the revolution.

A lot of the difference between these two outcomes can be ascribed to geography. Indeed, we who study Saint-Domingue are not unaware that things did not turn out so well in the Lesser Antilles, and if we think about it we generally just note that Guadeloupe is smaller and thus harder to defend from sea-borne attack. It is, but Victor Hugues managed to not only defend the island against the greatest naval power on earth at the time but to attack neighboring islands and give the British fits throughout the whole region. An explanation for the failure of the revolution in Guadeloupe required more analysis than it had been given. Laurent Dubois has provided that analysis.

For one thing, he points out, pre-Revolutionary Guadeloupe was not part of the core of the plantation complex, while Saint-Domingue was the most highly developed sugar island of the Caribbean. Dubois begins Colony of Citizens with a careful portrait of Guadeloupe under the ancien régime, using the sources of ancien régime social history, the notarials, parish registers, court records, and other government documents so meticulously maintained by the French colonial government. Guadeloupean slaves seem to have been neither so industrially organized, nor so strongly alienated from their production, as were slaves in northern Saint-Domingue, or elsewhere in the plantation Caribbean. This was to become important when unified resistance was essential.

Dubois pays great attention to the role of the ancien libres, those persons of African ancestry who were free before the revolution. Free coloreds were marginal people in all slave societies of the Americas, but seemingly they were more so in pre-revolutionary Guadeloupe than in Saint-Domingue. Free colored Guadeloupeans tended to be small-scale economic operators: artisans, merchants, or inter-island traders, peasant farmers, laborers, or, at best, owners of small cash-crop farms. In this, they were more like the free colored populations of the English Lesser Antilles than free coloreds in Saint-Domingue. Pre-revolutionary Guadeloupean free coloreds may thus have had a greater sympathy with the plight of the slaves than Dominguans. In any case, they played an important role in the developing political situation in Guadeloupe, some going on to become revolutionary leaders. One particularly interesting case that Dubois deals with extensively is the story of Louis Delgrès, leader of the resistance to re-imposition of slavery in 1802. Dubois's work recalls the story of Delgrès for the English-speaking world. Delgrès was recently rescued from two hundred years of obscurity in France with the re-naming of the historic fort in Guadeloupe after him and the erection of a plaque to his memory (across from that dedicated to Toussaint L'Ouverture) in the Panthéon in Paris. If there is an unqualified hero of this book it is Delgrès (although he does not make his first appearance until page 119). His story alone makes this book worth reading.

One major argument over the revolution in the French Caribbean is the degree to which it can be considered an outgrowth of the French revolution and to what extent it was a "revolution from below," in the words of Carolyn Fick's work on the Saint-Domingue slave uprising.[2] Dubois shows us that the two need not be mutually exclusive. Slaves and free people of color received and understood the ideas coming from France. They did not need white people from far away to tell them that freedom was better than slavery and democracy better than tyranny. They took advantage of the ideas of liberty and equality that were coming from the metropole to help frame and advance their own pre-existing claims. Dubois illustrates both the flow of ideas and the way Guadeloupeans of African descent made these ideas their own. In the 1793 slave uprising at Trois-Rivières, which forms the principal subject of the second part of Colony of Citizens, rebel leaders successfully claimed that their movement was directed against treacherous royalist whites, and escaped punishment. They took advantage of the Jacobin discourse that ascribed Royalist sympathies to the planter class, while at the same time refraining from attacking a plantation owned by a noted Jacobin. They avoided (for a time) the generally dismal fate of most slave rebels, with one individual subsequently becoming a free overseer on state plantations (before finally being shot by a Bonapartist firing squad).

The next part of Dubois's work shows how the ad-hoc conversion of slave rebels into loyal citizens of the republic in the Trois-Rivières uprising became state policy under the administration of Victor Hugues. Hugues was a figure with feet planted firmly on both sides of the divide: a former member of the slave-owning class in Saint-Domingue, he was also a committed Jacobin and leader of a revolutionary army. Citizens in a republic, according to the Jacobins, were supposed to sacrifice for the common good of the republic. The new citizens created by the emancipation edict of 1794 could make their most important contribution by producing cash crops to finance the republican state. So, Hugues was able to justify keeping the former slaves working on the plantations. Of course, the newly freed had a different idea of what liberté and égalité meant. Ultimately, the new citizens' refusal to keep working in the same way left the white colonial administrators with few arguments, or reasons, to oppose the re-imposition of slavery under Bonaparte.

It is interesting to contrast the relationship between the agricultural laborers and the Hugues administration with that which existed in Saint-Domingue between the Toussaint L'Ouverture administration and its agricultural workforce. Toussaint also required former slaves who had no other employment (e.g., typically military) to return to their plantations and work. Toussaint's laborers also resisted these orders as best they could, with actions from flight to sabotage to outright rebellion -- very similar to the reactions of slaves before the revolution. Toussaint crushed resistance with military force, executing troublemakers with little compunction -- even equating resistance to labor laws with treasonable support for the enemies of the Republic as Hugues did. Yet, when Bonaparte's troops came after 1802 to re-impose the slave system, Toussaint fought, alongside the former slaves. The resistance in Saint-Domingue was more or less universal, while, as Dubois points out, Guadeloupe's (white) administrators and substantial elements of the island's ruling class supported the re-imposition of slavery. In both cases, though, the agricultural laborers fought against a return to their old status. They, at least, could tell the difference between unpaid labor service to the state and chattel slavery, and preferred the former.

One role which new citizens and the Hugues administration both saw as crucial for the successful transformation of slaves into citizens was military service. Newly freed men rushed to join the armed forces of the Republic, both as infantrymen and as sailors on corsairs. Prior to the revolution, enslaved men could gain freedom through military service. During the period of emancipation, on the other hand, they justified their claim to the freedom they had already been accorded by being willing to fight for it. They were often the only people available to fill the ranks of the French armed forces, as white soldiers from the metropole could not penetrate the British blockade while local whites tended to be lukewarm in their support of the revolution. Republican armies in the eastern Caribbean were two-thirds black. Hugues was able to lead his armies on a rampage throughout the eastern Caribbean, seriously damaging British hegemony. The Peace of Amiens took away this important function that black men could fulfill and made it much easier to imagine turning them back into agricultural laborers.

The last part of Colony of Citizens is the sad story of how slavery was re-imposed in Guadeloupe. Some years ago, France celebrated the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the 1848 abolition of slavery, conveniently forgetting the abortive abolition of 1794-1802. Dubois's work recaptures this forgotten chapter, and shows how it played out in this peripheral French Caribbean colony. Peripheral or not, the story of Guadeloupe is important to our understanding of this period, if only because of the alternative viewpoint it gives those of us who study the somewhat happier story of Saint-Domingue. The savage repression of the re-enslaved in Guadeloupe, including even those who had supported the coming of Bonaparte's expedition, parallels the vicious brutality of the Leclerc regime in Saint-Domingue and shows why the Haitian rebels of 1802-03 fought so hard. And the persistent memory of freedom in Guadeloupe, despite all the efforts of Bonaparte's enforcers to obliterate it, restores one's faith in human freedom and dignity even in the midst of oppression and degradation.

Indeed, Dubois argues that this relatively peripheral rebellion deserves general attention because the modern concepts of human rights and human dignity were, in a sense, invented in the Caribbean. The anti-slavery struggle, both by the enslaved and by their liberal European champions, certainly drew inspiration from the struggle of Caribbean peoples for freedom during the eighteenth-century revolutions. There is a growing body of work on the impact of the Haitian Revolution on struggles against slavery throughout the Atlantic.[3] It is rather commonplace now to see the idea of global standards of human rights as a child of the abolition movement. Groups as diverse as the modern women's movement and anti-abortion protestors claim to be the heirs of the abolitionists. Guadeloupe's sufferings and defeat may be even more central to this tradition than Haiti's victory, since the Guadeloupean rebels never claimed to be anything but citizens of a French Republic in which equality and the liberty of all were respected. Thus Louis Delgrès set an example for Schoelcher, the architect of the 1848 abolition, and for all his heirs to this day.

On a more practical level, this book is very useful to scholars and teachers of the Caribbean and the Atlantic revolutions because of the wealth of sources that it draws upon. Saint-Domingue's public records, sadly, descend into a great silence starting about 1792. There are a few fragmentary books of notarial acts from the revolutionary period, and then very, very little for the early national period. In Guadeloupe, on the other hand, the French genius for accurate and complete (not to say excessive) record-keeping was faithfully exercised throughout the revolutionary period. Therefore, Dubois has a good deal to go on in telling the story of the Guadeloupean revolutionaries. He has plantation records maintained by the Republican administration. He has court records. He has records of births, deaths, marriages, name changes, deeds for land, manumissions of slaves, and the like. Thus, while students of the Haitian Revolution have to rely on letters from generals, other military records, and the occasional diary to reconstruct the changes in society that went on during the revolution, Dubois has the genuine article: the stuff of a proper social history.

In conclusion, I feel that A Colony of Citizens merits the attention, not only of a few readers in the rather limited field of French Caribbean studies, but of a broader audience interested in Atlantic revolutions, slavery and abolition, the genesis of human rights, or even just a mighty lively story.


[1]. Frédéric Régent, Esclavage, métissage, liberté: La Révolution francaise en Gualdeoupe, 1789-1802 (Paris: Editions Grasset & Fasquelle, 2004); Anne Pérotin-Dumon, La ville aux îles, la ville dans l'île: Basse-Terre et Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, 1650-1820 (Paris: Karthala, 2000); and Laurent Dubois, trans. Jean-Francois Chaix, Les Esclaves de la République: L'Histoire oubliée de la première émancipation, 1789-1794 (Paris, 1998).

[2]. Carolyn Fick, The Making of Haiti: The Saint-Domingue Revolution From Below (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990).

[3]. For example, David Geggus, ed., The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (Charleston: University of South Carolina Press, 2002).

Copyright (c) 2005 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes.

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Book Review

Phillips book cover

Published by H-Africa, (December, 2005).

John Edward Phillips, ed. Writing African History. Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2005. xii + 532 pp. Illustrations, notes, index. $75.00 (cloth), ISBN 1-58046-164-6.

Reviewed for H-Africa by Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia, History Department, Montclair State University.

African History: Sources, Methods, and Approaches

Forty years after the publication of Daniel McCall's Africa in Time Perspective: A Discussion of Historical Reconstruction from Unwritten Sources, John Edward Phillips and a team of experts in different fields have produced Writing African History. This collection of essays is an attempt to update McCall's earlier work, acknowledging that African history and the disciplines that support its production have changed significantly in the last four decades. In general, the book is quite successful in presenting a comprehensive, yet not exhaustive, overview of some of the methods and sources employed by historians of Africa. It is prefaced with an introduction written by Daniel McCall wherein McCall describes the content and scope of the collected essays and places them in their historiographical context.

The body of the book is divided into four parts. The first part contains only one essay written by the editor -- Phillips -- introducing the question, "what is African history?" The majority of the text, however, is devoted to the more general question of what is history. Professional historians and advanced graduate students will find little new in this piece, but undergraduates and readers less familiar with the history as a discipline may find it useful.

The essays contained in the second part describe and explain the sources employed by historians in the writing of African history. The authors of these essays look not just at the sources but also at the diverse disciplines and methods that produce these materials. Here, the reader will find contributions that discuss the data coming from archaeology, historical linguistics, physical anthropology, and botany; as well as discussions on the collection and use of oral traditions and oral history, Arabic sources, and various types of European documents.

Some of these essays present an overview of the disciplines that produce particular kinds of data. For instance, in "Archaeology and the Reconstruction of the African Past", Susan Keech McIntosh presents a very useful description of the changes that have affected the discipline of archaeology as it pertains to Africa. This is followed by a clear and thoughtful explanation of the methods and concepts used by archaeologists, particularly notions of chronology and association. The objective of the author is to show historians that the valid use of archaeological data requires proper understanding of the ways in which that data has been produced. She also makes valuable suggestions about how historians can make better use of archaeological materials. For example, she proposes a number of questions that historians should consider when assessing archaeological evidence: have "recovery methods . . . been designed to detect and evaluate distortions of pre- and post-depositional processes? Has due attention been paid to questions of chronology and contemporaneity? Where analytical groupings are created have they been defined and inclusion criteria specified so that we may assess whether the entities created are indeed groups of individual things that can be fairly discussed together" (p. 63)? Using early iron technology research in the Termit region of Niger as a case study, she reminds us that a problem with radiocarbon testing is that it does not document an archeological event. Thus radiocarbon-acquired dates need to be linked, through other techniques (such as stratigraphy and association), to specific archaeological events. McIntosh acknowledges it can be hard-going sometimes, but "if you have begun to understand the material domain of time, you have the basic knowledge to evaluate the strength of an archaeological argument" and your history will be stronger for it (p. 80).

The essays on linguistics and physical anthropology, by Christopher Ehret and S. O. Y. Keita respectively, make similar presentations on those particular disciplines and are similarly effective. Ehret takes the reader step by step through the process of creating a linguistic stratigraphy that will uncover the "genetic" relationships between languages. He then continues to explain how words within specific languages become the "artifacts" for the historian. By following specific criteria on how to position particular words in the linguistic stratigraphy the historian may start to unveil stories of contact and exchange among different societies. He ends by using the history of the Nilo-Saharan family of African languages to illustrate these techniques.

S. O. Y. Keita focuses on skeletal biology, the area he thinks is most likely to make important contributions to African history. In his view, this sub-area will help the historian develop knowledge of what he calls lifeways, health and disease states, and population affinity and relationships. While acknowledging the limits of studying skeletal biology -- related to the availability and quality of samples and the challenges this poses for establishing a reliable periodization -- Keita describes, in great detail, the possibilities. Bones get imprinted with all kind of information about diet and activity, health and disease; by exploiting the insights offered by palaeopathology -- which have contributed greatly to historical debates on the origins of syphilis in the Americas and in the study of Egyptian and Peruvian mummies -- historians will be able to better grasp issues of human variation and population history. He discusses at length the history and development of the concept of race and the racial paradigm in the understanding of Africa's population, concluding that "race" is of no use in understanding the history of Africa's populations. Instead, he argues that, "the spatial patterning of DNA and serogenetic variant in living populations requires the use of evolutionary models and other considerations to infer the casual reasons for their distribution" (p. 144).

This section also includes two essays on oral sources, reflecting the importance of oral materials in the writing of African history. It also shows, however, that there are still many unresolved questions regarding the place of oral materials in the writing of history, and which historians must pay attention to. In "Oral Traditions as a Means of Reconstructing the Past," David Henige makes a strong case for the changes that need to take place to enhance and validate the collection and use of oral traditions by historians. Henige presents a clear-eyed description of the many problems that plague the practices of historians when it comes to the use of oral materials. He notes, in particular, the difficulty accessing materials collected by historians: "From the beginning, Africanist historians took to the field with notebooks and tape recorders, used them furiously -- or so we were to gather -- and wrote articles and books based on them. These contained a panoply of citations to interviews -- names, identifications, dates, places, sometimes even references to complex alphanumeric classification systems. And then nothing. Perhaps no more than 10 percent of the cases were the notebooks and/or field tapes deposited anywhere else than the historian's basement, attic, or office, despite the establishment of several depositories for this purpose" (p. 173). His assessment may be interpreted as yet another attack on the validity of oral sources, illustrating as it does a situation in which the materials in question cannot be used by other historians and thus, cannot be verified or challenged. However, his suggestions are pertinent and historians will do well in paying close attention to them. He proposes, for example, that given the limited opportunities to revisit oral data, more precautions should be taken at the time of collection. He explores issues that affect the value of oral sources such as miscommunication with informants, intercultural barriers, exploitative practices in the field, the performative nature of oral traditions, time limitations, and interference between the oral and the written. He concludes that: "To become fully operational, the use of oral data must encompass at least the deposit of raw materials with limited or no restriction on their use; accompanying details of interviewing and collecting techniques; and a full list of informants and formal questions. Until this happens, at a minimum, oral data cannot be regarded as full-fledged historical sources and can be disregarded without further ado" (p. 188).

Barbara Cooper's essay examines the broad debates that have shaped the development of oral history and its use among historians of Africa. She focuses on the centrality of oral materials in the definition and evolution of African history as a discipline. However, she also acknowledges that this emphasis has created a sense of isolation from the general field of history. Thus, despite the rich and exciting developments within African history, "the reality is that the methodological and conceptual challenges produced by African history have rendered it largely unintelligible to academic historians in general" (p. 211). She makes an important call to find ways of bridging this gap in a manner that allows African history to continue developing its own methods without sacrificing its ability to establish constructive dialogues with other fields. "The way out, I suggest, is to recast somewhat our sense of audience and become more self-conscious about the multitude of discourses about Africa that shape how our work is received" (p. 211).

I was very pleased to find that the discussion of interdisciplinary and oral sources does not exclude the examination of written ones. After all, these are just as important for the writing of African history and, in many cases, equally problematic. Essays on Arab and European sources by John Hunwick, John Thornton, and Toyin Falola close the third part of the book. Here, the authors present an inventory of available materials, a reflection on their potential, and a consideration of the problems they pose for historians attempting to interpret their significance.

This aforementioned third part of the book is devoted to discussing, describing and illustrating some of the approaches used in the writing of African history. Here the reader will find pieces on social history, economic history, art history, oral history, local history, world-systems analysis, Africans in the diaspora, history and memory, and women's history.

One is tempted to focus on the absence of valuable areas of study such as environmental or intellectual history. However, the volume does not pretend to be exhaustive and it would be unfair to expect it to cover all approaches to African history. Rather, these essays offer the reader a valuable sample of some of the approaches that have been put to good, productive use by historians of Africa.

Reading these essays, one appreciates how rich and diverse the field of African history has become. However, it is also evident that separately defining and delimiting all these areas of study is difficult and largely artificial. There is considerable overlap in theory and practice and the differences among them should always be seen as methodological shortcuts and not necessarily reflections of reality.

Each chapter uses a different strategy to illustrate the methods, objectives, benefits, and shortcomings of the historical approaches considered. Some present a straightforward description and discussion of particular areas of study. Such is the case with the essays on economic history, art history, and women's history. These articles carefully trace the evolution of these perspectives in the writing of African history and assess their achievements, challenges, and future potential.

Other authors choose to address head on the questions of definition and purpose of specific perspectives. Such is the case in the essay by Isaac Olawale Albert, "Data Collection and Interpretation in the Social History of Africa." Here the author explores the definition of social history and presents a critical examination of the work that has been produced in this area. He argues that historians have failed to put development at the center of their study of social history, and suggests that the analysis of the many problems that presently ail many African societies should be the starting point of any significant social history in Africa. Although some may find this definition of social history rather limited, it raises important questions on the use and practice of history inside and outside Africa, and on the connections between history and society. Historians must find ways of addressing these important issues in their work and Albert's essay offers a valuable starting point.

Finally, some authors present specific examples of historical work to illustrate particular approaches. In this group it is worth highlighting the essay on oral history contributed by Diedre L. Bádéjo. Bádéjo describes the importance of reexamining the epistemological tools used in the interpretation of Yoruba oral materials. She encourages historians to look to the Yoruba language as the main source for the understanding of Yoruba epistemology. This, she argues, will enable them to unlock the complex and diverse messages contained in the rich Yoruba oral forms.

The volume closes with a conclusion by Phillips which, like McCall's introduction, is a broadly sketched piece on the different steps involved in writing a historical piece. And like McCall's introduction it will probably be only of real interest to undergraduates and younger students of history.

Despite the often-quoted difficulties in achieving overall quality in edited collections, it is fair to say that the essays to this book are well written, well thoughtout, and very effective in describing the sources and methods used by historians of Africa. My main complaint is the lack of a more substantive conclusion. After the rich and stimulating presentations made by the contributors to the text, it would have been valuable to present an overall reflection on the state of the field. There are also a few typos and proofreading errors that should be corrected in further editions. Overall, this is a very useful book that is not just meant to celebrate the richness of African history but to critically reflect upon it. And it manages to do both.

Copyright (c) 2005 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes.

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