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September 2007 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 Trouvadore Project:
The Legacy of a Sunken Slave Ship

By Nigel Sadler

Breezy Point on East Caicos; copyright reserved Turks and Caicos National Museum

Often in the past archaeologists have worked in isolation from other disciplines, carrying out research and publishing to meet the demands of peer pressure. This usually meant their work only appeared in limited academic publications and had little relevance to the community in which the archaeological project was carried out.

However, what is the purpose of archaeological work if it does not inform, educate, and interest the local community? It is for this reason that community or public archaeology is growing and the involvement of the local community in a project is now being deemed an essential component of any work. Archaeology should also be seen as an integral part of a wider project involving associated disciplines, such as archival and historical research, as well as partnering with local organisations such as museums, heritage organisations, and government agencies.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, just south east of the Bahamas, the Trouvadore Project is a good example of this inter-disciplinary and community approach. [Read this full article here in Adobe .pdf format >>>].

[Return to table of contents]

From West Africa to Barbados:
A Rare Pipe from a Plantation Slave Cemetery

By Jerome Handler and Neil Norman [1]

[Read this article below in .html format, or in Adobe .pdf format.]

White clay pipes of European manufacture regularly appear in African descendant sites in the Caribbean and North America. They are usually recovered in the form of bowl or stem fragments.[2] Many such fragments were found at Newton plantation cemetery in Barbados in the early 1970s (as well as at 13 other Barbados plantations where research was conducted). The cemetery also yielded 21 whole pipes, defined as a significant portion of the bowl and a section of the attached stem (Figure 1). These pipes were an important component of the cemetery's grave goods and constitute what is still today the largest collection of whole pipes thus far reported in the archaeological literature for African descendant sites in North America and the Caribbean; it is possibly one of the largest, if not the largest, collection of whole pipes reported for any archaeological site in British America.

figure 1
Figure 1. Examples of whole European pipes associated with burials excavated from Newton plantation cemetery.

Moreover, Newton also yielded one specimen of a very distinctive short-stemmed earthenware elbow/elbow-bend or stem/socket pipe of almost certain West African, possibly of Gold Coast (Ghana), origin (Handler and Lange 1978; Blakeman and Riordan 1978; Handler 1983; Handler 1997). It is rather remarkable that approximately 35 years after this pipe was discovered, as far as we are aware, nothing similar has yet been reported from African descendant sites in British America, despite the amount of archaeological research that has been conducted in such sites since the early 1970s. This brief article is intended to bring this find to the attention of a new generation of researchers, as was an earlier one in this Newsletter describing two distinctive carnelian beads from Newton (Handler 2007).[3]

The pipe was discovered with what was the richest burial in the cemetery in terms of its associated artifacts -- all intentionally placed grave goods. The burial dramatically contrasted in its quantity and types of artifacts with the over 100 other burials discovered at the cemetery. In fact, to this day, this burial remains among the most distinctive of known interments from African descendant sites in British America, if not in all of the Americas. Designated Burial 72, this was a male of around 50 years of age, buried without a coffin in an extended supine position. He was probably interred in the late 1600s or early 1700s; the geographical area of his birth is uncertain (Figure 2). Burial 72 was interpreted as once having been an important member of the enslaved community. He was probably what in the West Indies would have been called an "obeah man," that is, a diviner/healer or medicine man. Artifacts associated with this burial included an iron knife, several metal finger rings and bracelets, an elaborate necklace, which included the carnelian bead noted above, and the clay pipe which is the subject of this paper (Handler 1997; Handler 2000; Bilby and Handler 2004).

figure 2
Figure 2. Burial 72 (initially numbered Burial 30), extended skeleton, showing (with arrows) metal bracelets and pipe (on pelvic area).

Although West African smoking pipes have been investigated for several decades, the paucity of study collections with exact provenience and regional comparative studies make regional identification of the Barbadian pipe tenuous. The pipe, recovered from Burial 72's pelvic area (Figure 3), relates to a broad class of smoking implements found throughout West Africa from the Middle Niger to the coastal area of Benin and Ghana (DeCorse 2001: 165-67; Kelly 2001: 92-95; McIntosh et al. 2003: 192; Ozanne 1962). In an early comparative article, Shaw (1960: 274) noted that West African pipes have two characteristics that differentiate them from North American and European examples: reed and stem construction and an acute angle created by an axis between the bowl and stem socket. With West African pipes, a reed or tube of wood was inserted into the hole at the pipe's short stem (i.e., the stem socket) in order to lengthen or enlarge the stem. Wilhelm Müller, a German Lutheran minister in the service of the Danish African Company in the 1660s, briefly mentioned how the Fetu (a coastal Fante-speaking kingdom) of the Gold Coast had "tobacco pipes without stems, instead of which hollowed-out sticks are used," and implied that potters made these pipes (quoted in Jones 1983: 255; several plants were still being used for pipe-stems in Ghana in modern times [Irvine 1961: lxix], and Norman has observed similar pipes being manufactured today in the northwestern Republic of Benin).

figure 3
Figure 3. Burial 72, torso, showing bracelets and (with arrow) pipe.

The Barbadian pipe is a reed and stem form with an acute stem/bowl angle axis. This example was fired to a buff color with a brown polished slip; there was no evidence of a mold seam, as appears on white-clay European pipes. Although molds are occasionally used to form the interior of the bowl for early West African pipes (Ozanne 1962: 55), the other formal characteristics (i.e., bowl, foot, and stem) as well as the decorative fluting were most likely formed by hand (Figure 4). The short-stem is approximately 3.8-cm long and 1.9 cm wide (see Handler 1983 for details on the pipe's dimensions, clay composition, decorative features, and possible method of manufacture; Figure 5).

figure 4
Figure 4. Burial 72 pipe; note the "hook" with a hole between the bowl and stem.

In terms of provenience, the Burial 72 pipe is most probably a West African pipe, quite possibly from the Gold Coast region.[4] In its form and shape, short stem, decorative features, flutes, and especially its bridge or "hook" between the bowl and stem, the pipe closely resembles a number of pipes from southern and coastal Ghana sites dating from the latter half of the 17th century. Such pipes have been described and illustrated by Paul Ozanne (1962, 1964; Figure 6). The small hole on the bridge between the top of the back of the bowl and the top of the Burial 72 pipe was probably used to tie or otherwise secure the detachable stem to the rest of the pipe.[5] This hook is possibly the most diagnostic element as it is a common feature of Gold Coast pipes from the late 17th to early-18th century, but is infrequently found on pipes from similar temporal contexts in coastal Benin and other non-Gold Coast sites.[6]

figure 5
Figure 5. Burial 72 pipe; views of side, bottom, and top.

Archaeological evidence for a Gold Coast provenience is supported by data from the English/British slave trade from the Gold Coast to Barbados during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. From around 1650 to 1750, during which period the Burial 72 interment most probably took place, at least 123,400 captive Africans were shipped to Barbados from Gold Coast ports; and persons identified with the Gold Coast, such as "Coromantines," were a significant element of the island's enslaved population (Handler and Lange 1978: 21-28).[7]

figure 6
Figure 6. Pipe types from southern Ghana, as shown in Ozanne 1964 (facing p. 6). The Barbados pipe appears to most closely resemble Type 2b, described by Ozanne as "flat-based pipes with a hook between the bowl and the stem."

As with the carnelian beads reported earlier (Handler 2007), it will never be known how the Burial 72 pipe came across the Atlantic, and if it arrived with the person with whom it was ultimately interred or with some other person, African or European. Preliminary findings from the primary source literature (Handler 2006) suggest it was extremely difficult for captive Africans to bring their personal material belongings aboard slave ships, and that in most cases they were probably divested of such items before they boarded the ships. It is possible, however, that the pipe, as with other small items such as beads, was smuggled aboard by its owner, or its owner was otherwise permitted to retain it either by his African captors or European purchasers; of course, it is also possible that the pipe was brought by some European, and somehow acquired by enslaved Africans in Barbados. The white clay pipes interred with burials at Newton cemetery may have been acquired from plantation managements as part of the plantation "reward system" (Handler and Lange 1978: 133-35, 218), or through other means in Barbados, such as internal trade, but it is unlikely that plantation managements would have distributed a pipe of African manufacture. By whatever means this pipe came to Barbados and whether it was brought by the person with whom it was ultimately interred -- or by any other enslaved person for that matter -- it is another example of the material links between enslaved Africans and the New World during the era of the Atlantic slave trade.


[1].  Jerome Handler is a Senior Scholar at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Charlottesville; Neil Norman is a Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Historical Research, Ohio State University, Columbus. We are grateful to Jama Coartney of the Digital Media Lab at the University of Virginia Library for her assistance in preparing the illustrations.

[2].  Late 18th century export statistics of "British produce or manufacture" from British ports destined for African trade include hundreds of tobacco pipes annually. Some of these pipes were apparently used for trade on the West African coast, but others were distributed to captives during the Middle Passage. The distribution of pipes and tobacco, particularly to enslaved adults after the main meal of the day, apparently occurred fairly regularly on British slaving vessels by the latter half of the eighteenth century, if not earlier. Tobacco distributions, probably of low-grade tobacco that originated in the West Indies or Virginia, also occurred in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. There are no data on whether the enslaved were allowed to keep the pipes they received aboard the ships. In an article now being prepared for publication, Handler is developing in greater detail the evidence for the issuance of pipes and tobacco on slave ships during the Middle Passage.

[3].  This pipe and other artifacts from Newton cemetery, including the carnelian beads, have been on display at the Barbados Museum for a number of years.

[4].  The pipe was surely not made in Barbados as its clay differs from the Barbadian clay that provided the raw material for a local small-scale, household-based pottery industry and there is no other archaeological evidence for similar pipes. Nor do ethnohistorical sources mention or even suggest the existence of any pipe manufacturing on the island (Handler 1963a, 1963b; Handler and Lange 1978).

[5].  Thurston Shaw shows a pipe with an apparent loop between the bowl and stem, but the illustration is not clear enough for us to be certain (Shaw 1960: 298, Figure 4, Dawu Type V).

[6].  For Gold Coast examples see Ozanne's (1960: 54-57) Types II and III, and especially IIb. Although Ozanne's illustrations are imprecise, they are the only ones of which we are aware to show the "hook" with the small hole (see Figure 6).

[7].  The figure on Gold Coast shipments is from the revised and expanded version of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database; courtesy of David Eltis, pers. communication, 22 August 2007.


Bilby, K. M. and J. S. Handler
2004    Obeah: Healing and Protection in West Indian Slave Life. Journal of Caribbean History 38: 153-183.

Blakeman, C. H. and R. V. Riordan
1978    Clay Pipes from Newton Plantation Excavations. In J. S. Handler and F. W. Lange 1978, pp. 251-273.

DeCorse, C.
2001    An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans of the Gold Coast, 1400-1900. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Handler, J. S.
1963a    Pottery Making in Rural Barbados. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 19: 314-34.

1963b    An Historical Sketch of Pottery Manufacture in Barbados. Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society 30: 129-53.

1983    An African Pipe from a Slave Cemetery in Barbados, West Indies. In P. Davey, ed., The Archaeology of the Clay Tobacco Pipe VIII. America. BAR International Series 175, pp. 245-254.

1997    An African-Type Healer/Diviner and his Grave Goods: A Burial from a Plantation Slave Cemetery in Barbados, West Indies. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 1: 91-130.

2000    Slave Medicine and Obeah in Barbados, ca. 1650-1834. Nieuwe West-Indische Gids -- New West Indian Guide 74: 57-60.

2006    On the Transportation of Material Goods by Enslaved Africans During the Middle Passage: Preliminary Findings from Documentary Sources. African Diaspora Archaeology Network Newsletter. December.

2007    From Cambay in India to Barbados in the Caribbean: Two Unique Beads from Newton Plantation Slave Cemetery. African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. March.

Handler, J. S. and F. W. Lange.
1978    Plantation Slavery in Barbados: An Archaeological and Historical Investigation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Irvine, F. R.
1961    Woody Plants of Ghana. London: Oxford University Press.

Jones, A.
1983    German Sources for West African History, 1599-1699. Wiesbaden.

Kelly, K.
2001    Change and Continuity in Coastal Benin. In C. DeCorse, ed., West Africa During the Atlantic Slave Trade: Archaeological Perspectives. London: Leicester University Press, pp. 81-100.

McIntosh, S. K, D. Gallagher, and R. J. McIntosh
2003    Tobacco Pipes from Excavations at the Museum Site, Jenne, Mali. Journal of African Archaeology 1: 171-99.

Ozanne, P.
1962    Notes on the Early Historic Archaeology of Accra. Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 6: 51-70.

1964    Tobacco-pipes of Accra and Shai. Legon: University of Ghana [1960].

Shaw, T.
1960    Early Smoking Pipes: In Africa, Europe, and America. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 90: 272-305.

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Building on Joseph's Model
of Market-Bound Colonoware Pottery

By Chris Espenshade*

[Read this article below in .html format, or in Adobe .pdf format.]

go to Joseph's June 2007 article

Recent discussions on the possible mechanisms for whole Colonoware vessels being discovered in the rivers of the South Carolina Lowcountry have identified several options (Ferguson 2007; Espenshade 2007; Joseph 2004, 2007). Joe Joseph recently offered his theory that some of the recovered vessels represent the result of the capsizing of slave canoes on their way to markets. This is an intriguing model, and a testable hypothesis, given appropriate samples.

go to Espenshade's March 2007 article

How can we distinguish market-bound Colonoware from riverside offerings, dock-side loss, or refuse disposal? Given that Colonoware researchers (myself included) are starting to recognize that there was probably not a single mechanism by which all whole Colonoware vessels ended up in rivers (and by which some ended up in terrestrial contexts), it would be good to be able to define expectations for certain mechanisms. This article is a first step in operationalizing Joseph's hypothesis.

The following premises are offered for consideration:

  •  The Colonoware vessels in a given canoe-load would most likely represent the product of a single potter or a closely related, small group of potters. There should be a high degree of similarity in clay source, tempering practice, firing technology, formal attributes, and stylistic traits. The economies of scale for part-time market potters mean that large lots of clay are gathered at the same time, and large batches of paste are mixed at a given time. This should increase technological homogeneity over that seen in occasional household production for domestic use only.

  •  As noted by Joseph (2007), if being transported for sale of the vessels proper, the pots should not show signs of prior use. The argument here is that people would not want to buy "used" pots. The pots should lack interior abrasions from stirring, the bowls should lack cut marks from cutlery, and the vessel bases should not show wear consistent with the repeated placement of vessels on sandy, gritty surfaces or in coal beds. The pots should show no evidence of having had closures placed over their mouths. The pots should lack heavy sooting from repeated use over a smoky fire (but they may have firing clouds from their original firing). The assemblage should not include badly spalled or cracked pieces.

  •  If being transported for sale, the vessels should not contain food or medicine residues in their paste. Dr. Nora Reber, at UNC-Wilmington, is among a group of researchers who have begun to identify pottery use through the macroscopically undetectable residues absorbed into the porous walls of low-fired pottery. Market-bound pieces should not have residues, for example, from a rice-based cuisine common to Lowcountry slaves. As an aside, vessels used in rituals might be expected to have a very restricted range of residues, such that the testing of a number of the marked bowls of suspected ritual origin might allow us to reconstruct portions of a riverside ritual.

  •  If being transported for sale, there should be statistically identifiable size classes, which formerly corresponded to customers' ideals of a typical bowl, a large cooking pot, etc. As pottery production moved from (i) very occasional potting to supply the immediate needs of family and/or slave village to (ii) more frequent production to produce a marketable surplus, there should be greater consistency in the product and tighter definition of product classes. The more frequently a primitive potter (one not using formal molds or wheel technology) makes pots, the more uniform her pots become. The more pots made in a single production episode, the more uniform the pots will be. Furthermore, the more a potter's product is subjected to market feed-back (i.e., what sells and what doesn't), the more regimented the product becomes. Village Colonoware (to use Joseph's dichotomy) was subjected to limited feed-back, while Market Colonoware had to please the buyers.

  •  If intended for sale at market, the Colonoware should reflect greater concern with aesthetics than does Village Colonoware. A well-burnished pot is aesthetically pleasing, but is also easier to clean than a smoothed or semi-burnished vessel. However, unless we can sample the coeval Village Colonoware from the source community of the Market Colonoware, it will be difficult to quantify the care with which an assemblage was burnished (although I have been pondering a decidedly high-tech approach to measuring reflectivity as an indication of quality of burnishing).

  •  If being transported for sale at market, the pots should display traits that make them look more like Euro-American friendly pots. We should expect forms that mimic refined pottery, such as porringers. We should expect traits such as the crimping/notching of bowl and plate rims to mimic European and domestic slipware. In most basic terms, Village Colonoware can function without unnecessary imitation of European forms (e.g., the notching of a bowl rim has no obvious functional advantage when serving stew), but Market Colonoware may benefit in increased sales by resembling more familiar (to the buyer) products.

  •  If being transported only to contain market goods (fin or shell fish, wild fruit, garden surplus, wild game, etc.), the Colonoware may have been previously used, and may not be as regimented as in the other scenario. If serving as containers, there may have been a preference for larger vessel forms. As well, there may be evidence for closure devices (e.g., wear on the most constricted portion of the neck and on the rim top from the tying of a piece of hide, cloth, or wood to keep the contents in the pot and to keep insects and other vermin out of the pot). Pots functioning as transport containers may be spalled or cracked, yet still retain their usefulness.

If these premises seem reasonable, the study lacks only a good assemblage (and possibly a graduate student in search of a thesis topic) to address Joseph's theory.

As we gather better riverine and terrestrial assemblages for the Lowcountry, approaches such as those outlined above should allow us to more fully understand the mechanisms of assemblage formation and the role(s) of Colonoware in slave and broader plantation society. Rather than provisionally choosing between ritual (as championed by Ferguson 1992, 1999, 2007), refuse (as argued by Espenshade 2007), or canoe capsize (as posited by Joseph 2004, 2007), we should be able to conduct the appropriate analyses and bring data to bear.


*  The author, Christopher Espenshade, is an archaeologist and principal investigator with New South Associates, Inc., 415-A South Edgeworth Street, Greensboro, North Carolina 27401; his email address is

References Cited

Espenshade, C. T.
2007    A River of Doubt: Marked Colonoware, Underwater Sampling, and Questions of Inference. The African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, March 2007.

Ferguson, Leland G.
1992    Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-1800. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

1999    "The Cross is a Magic Sign": Marks on Eighteenth-Century Bowls in South Carolina. In "I, Too, Am America": Archaeological Studies of African-American Life, edited by Theresa A. Singleton, pp. 116-131. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville.

2007    Comments on Espenshade's "Marked Colonoware, Underwater Sampling, and Questions of Inference." The African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, March 2007.

Joseph, J. W.
2004    Colonoware for the Village -- Colonoware for the Market: Observations from the Charleston Judicial Center Site (38CH1708) on Colonoware Production and Typology. South Carolina Antiquities 36(1-2): 72-86.

2007    One More Look into the Water -- Colonoware in South Carolina Rivers and Charleston's Market Economy. The African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, June 2007.

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Wye House Archaeology

By Matthew D. Cochran, Lisa Kraus, and Mark P. Leone*

The University of Maryland's Archaeology in Annapolis Field School continued excavations at Wye House's Long Green, from June through July 2007. Wye House and its Long Green were described by Frederick Douglass in his autobiographies. He lived there and saw the slave environment as a boy. Excavations focused on a large 20 ft. x 40 ft. brick foundation initially located in the 2006 Field School. Preliminary field observations appear to indicate that this structure underwent at least three phases of construction: (1) initial construction post 1820s as a farm/storage structure; (2) post 1830s additions of brick footers and fireplace, structure altered into a slave quarter; and (3) post 1880s removal of fireplace, structure converted into a corn crib, standing as late as the 1940s.

Wye house front facade
The house built by Edward Lloyd IV during the 1780s and described by Frederick Douglass in the 1820s. The house and much of its acreage is still owned by descendants of the Lloyds, who have given University of Maryland archaeologists permission to excavate.

During the summer of 2006, University of Maryland students excavated a slave quarter that dated very securely to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This was the "Tulip Poplar Building," a brick foundation and chimney preserved within the roots of a substantial Tulip Poplar tree. Students also uncovered the remains of an 18th century building under the Red Overseer's House made famous in Frederick Douglass' description, perhaps an earlier incarnation of the same building. Excavations in 2005 uncovered the homes of late 19th and early 20th century tenant farmers, which may have been adapted from earlier structures. Throughout the entire site, archaeological evidence points to consistent reuse and rebuilding of the structures on the Long Green through the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

Long Green
Best described by Frederick Douglass, the Long Green is on the right and held well over a dozen buildings and hundreds of enslaved people. The road is the one Douglass walked down as a five year-old when he was brought to the plantation for the first time. The road bisects the formal property with the Great House, which is on the left, and the many slave quarters and shops, where the excavations take place.

With substantive artifact analysis pending, research questions devised in the field will focus on dynamic changes to the Long Green throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Specific questions to be addressed include the re-organization of the plantation landscape in response to changes in demographics and modes of production both pre- and post-emancipation; experiential aspects of a racially segregated plantation landscape; and, detailing the everyday struggles, described by Douglass, endured by the enslaved African American population of the Wye Plantation. Excavations have borne witness to a remarkably intact archaeological record that has the distinct potential to materially illuminate the narrative of Frederick Douglass.

Long Green
The Long Green undulates because it sits on top of shell middens dating to AD 1. University of Maryland students and staff have spent the last three years, 2005-2007, excavating at least four buildings.

The Discovery Channel presents three videos on the archaeology of Wye House, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where Frederick Douglass was enslaved as a young boy. These videos can be viewed at the Discovery Channel,, by following these links:,, and


*  Matthew David Cochran is affiliated with the University College London, Lisa Kraus with the University of Texas at Austin, and Mark P. Leone with the University of Maryland.

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Economic Organization and Cultural Cohesion
in the Coastal Hinterland of 19th-Century Kenya:
An Archaeology of Fugitive Slave Communities

By Lydia Wilson

Wilson map image

This article presents a dissertation proposal for doctoral research scheduled to begin in September 2007. The project centers on the archaeological investigation of settlements founded in 19th-century Kenya by people escaping slavery. It considers the economic insularity and cultural heterogeneity of runaway slave groups relative to the coastal hinterland communities that neighbored them. In Swahili, fugitive slaves were known as watoro. This project investigates the creation of watoro communities through a dual focus on inter- and intra-group relationships. Firstly, it explores the relative economic integration of these nascent communities into regional networks. Secondly, the project investigates whether fugitive slaves developed homogenized sociocultural norms or, alternately, maintained long-term cultural heterogeneity. The above inquiries will be evaluated through an archaeological comparison of watoro settlements with villages of neighboring Mijikenda peoples in the coastal hinterland. Relying on Mijikenda settlements as alternate examples of 19th-century rural Eastern African life, the project will explore how the status of watoro as refugees from enslavement shaped the economic, social, and cultural organization of their villages. Indices targeted in this investigation include diet, trade, craft production, house style, and spatial organization of domestic activities.

Project Focus and Central Problem

This project centers on the archaeological investigation of settlements founded in 19th-century Kenya by people escaping slavery. It considers the economic insularity and cultural heterogeneity of fugitive slave groups relative to the coastal hinterland communities that neighbored them. Runaways typically fled alone, brought few to no material possessions with them, and bore diverse cultural and social backgrounds. This project investigates the creation of new communities by such fugitives through a dual focus on inter- and intra-group relationships. Firstly, it explores the relative economic integration of these nascent communities into regional networks. Secondly, the project investigates whether fugitive slave groups developed homogenized sociocultural norms or, alternately, maintained long-term cultural heterogeneity.

Some anthropologists have noted that fugitive slave communities experienced group formation processes at an accelerated rate (Bilby 1996). Improvised under stress by people of dissimilar cultural background and social experience, fugitive slave groups in Eastern Africa provide researchers with valuable case studies from which to extrapolate more broadly about community creation and maintenance. This project’s focus on nascent refugee groups supports a renewed interest in the archaeology of communities (e.g., Canuto and Yaeger 2000), as well as aligning more broadly with increasing archaeological emphasis on identity (Meskell 2001; Orser 2001). Community creation remains the dominant research theme in fugitive slave archaeology, particularly in the Americas where the field is best developed (Weik 2002, 1997; Orser and Funari 2001; Allen 1999; Orser 1996, 1994). This project offers a divergent sociocultural context and more fluid power dynamic in which to consider fugitive slave community formation: my research thus will facilitate cross-cultural interpretations of slavery and its legacies. Further, the project will strengthen and broaden the still-emergent field of the archaeology of slavery in Eastern Africa (Croucher 2006, 2004; Kusimba 2006, 2004; Kiriama 2005). [Read this full article here in Adobe .pdf format >>>].

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The Archaeology of the Allensworth Hotel:
Negotiating the System in Jim Crow America

By Beatrice R. Cox

Maddocks Lambert Water Pitcher (1904-1929) excavated at Allensworth

Allensworth, California stands as an example of a larger social and economic movement to build Black town-sites, a movement that took place across the United States following the Civil War. Cultural racism enabled the existence of these intentional communities at a time when the constitutional rights of African Americans had been granted and acknowledged by the courts through the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution. At the height of the "Jim Crow" era, between 1890 and 1910, Southern states passed the bulk of discriminatory laws that segregated the races and reinforced the white supremacist attitudes engulfing many segments of the country (Katz 1996:249). It was also the second period of intense migration out of the South to the Western states (King 2003:107-113; Ramsey 1977:36; Rose 1965:363). In California, Jim Crow laws that segregated schools and public accommodations, prohibited interracial marriages, and restricted voting rights were in place by 1908, when Allensworth was founded.

By positioning the development of the African American town of Allensworth within the political and social structure of the United States during the Jim Crow era, a distinctive relationship emerges. Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth, an exslave from Kentucky, founded Allensworth, California on the foundation of two distinct nationalist political ideologies: social accommodation and cultural pluralism. These positions manifested out of opposition to racial oppression as buffers and as viable solutions to combating discrimination. In providing the sociopolitical context for this type of settlement, the material culture study of the Allensworth Hotel introduces a new inquiry for interpretation of qualitative data that informs African American sites. An analysis of the artifacts excavated from the hotel site suggests that African American political movements, beset with legalized discrimination, influenced the actions of the Allensworth pioneers negotiating the constructs of the Jim Crow era. [Read this full article here in Adobe .pdf format >>>].

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Pernambuco's Slave Trade from Costa da Mina
and Transatlantic Competitions in the Early Eighteenth Century

By Gustavo Acioli Lopes

Pernambuco map image

This study presents new estimates of the number of enslaved laborers imported into Pernambuco, Brazil, from locations in West Africa and analyzes key features of that part of the transatlantic slave trade during the eighteenth century. This article is divided into three parts. First, I present a new assessment of the number of enslaved persons imported into Pernambuco in the years 1696-1760 from Costa da Mina, an area of West Africa that was also referred to as the Slave Coast and the Bight of Benin. Utilizing archival research of primary sources, as well as published secondary sources, I have compiled a detailed chronology of slave imports within this overall time period. These import figures are then compared to the numbers of enslaved persons imported into Bahia, Brazil, from the Costa da Mina in the same period, and then with statistics for overall numbers of enslaved persons imported into all of Brazil during that time. In order to understand the Pernambuco slave trade in the context of a transatlantic perspective, in the second part of this article I compare and contrast the Pernambuco import data with the European slave trade in the same region of West Africa. This comparison enables me to evaluate the relative significance of Pernambuco’s role in the overall market of slave trading that impacted this region of West Africa.

In the third part of this article, I address the conditions and factors that shaped the Luso-Brazilian slave trade in this period of 1696-1760. Business interests in Pernambuco and Bahia competed with the strong influences of European investors, particularly British and French, who were engaged in the transatlantic slave trade targeting locations in the Bight of Benin. In order to compete, business concerns in Pernambuco and Bahia worked to manipulate interrelated trading of enslaved laborers, tobacco, manufactured goods, and smuggled gold. [Read this full article here in Adobe .pdf format >>>].

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Digging up the Past: An Exhibit Review

By Patrice L. Jeppson

Digging Up the Past: First African Baptist Church Burial Grounds
African American Museum in Philadelphia
701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
July 2007 to March 2008

Archaeology should -- and sometimes does -- serve as a resource for community needs. An excellent example of this is the new exhibit 'Digging Up The Past: First African Baptist Church Burial Grounds' which opened in July, 2007 at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). Two cultural resource studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s are drawn upon for a presentation about African American life and death in 19th century Philadelphia. Created by AAMP with assistance from the First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia and one of the museum's partners, the Khepera Charter School of Philadelphia, this is public history at its best. The interpretation conveys rare levels of immediacy. It is homegrown and notably heartfelt.

The Archaeology of the Exhibit

The exhibit draws on the findings of two cultural resource studies conducted a quarter-century ago in Center City, Philadelphia by archaeologists and physical anthropologists from John Milner and Associates, Inc., a professional consulting firm specializing in historic preservation and archaeological and historical investigations. The work re-discovered two lost (forgotten) church burial grounds -- the Eighth Street Cemetery, in use from circa 1823 to 1842, and the Tenth Street Cemetery, in use from 1810 to 1822. These burial grounds were the final resting place for free blacks practicing religious freedoms "in a distinct church of the Lord Jesus" known as the First African Baptist Church (Parrington and Roberts 1984: 29). The first encountered cemetery, which lay in the path of ramps for the new Vine Street Expressway and a proposed office building, was excavated in 1983-84 by a team directed by archaeologist Michael Parrington under a contract with the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia with supplemental funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the William Penn Foundation. The second, directly in the path of the Expressway, was excavated for PennDOT and FHWA by a team led by John McCarthy in 1990. The archaeological recovery was undertaken in accordance with federal historic preservation legislation.

exhibit image courtesy of  Najah Palm and the 

African American Museum of Philadelphia

The First African Baptist Church was established in 1809, upon separating from the white-dominated, First Baptist Church. The two congregations remained connected through mutual membership in the Baptist Association of Philadelphia (Christ and Roberts 1996). The First African Baptist congregation then divided, in 1816, with both resulting branches called the First African Baptist Church (McCarthy 1996). Both institutions were established and first active at a time when Philadelphia was the largest and most important center of free African American life in the United States. Philadelphia's African American community grew in size from approximately 4,200 individuals in 1800, to nearly 11,000 in 1850 (McCarthy 1997). Most of these new city residents were former slaves who migrated from the south. [Read this full review article here in Adobe .pdf format >>>].

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Recent Dissertations


The following, non-exhaustive lists of dissertations on African diaspora archaeology and related history studies were compiled by Chris Fennell. Archaeology dissertations are listed for the period since September 2006. The 2005 and 2006 issues of the African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter provided similar compilations of dissertations for the period of 2000-2006. History dissertations are also listed below for the period since September 2006, with a focus on studies addressing aspects of past social structures, social networks, the built environment, material culture, and impacts of racism. If you are aware of other recent dissertations, please email me, and I will include the information in a future newsletter edition. The dissertations listed below are doctoral theses, unless otherwise indicated, and are listed in alphabetic order by the author name. Abstracts are available online from the UMI/Proquest service.


Novel Objects and New Practices: An Archaeological Analysis of Smoking Pipes from Banda, Ghana, by Crystal C. Campbell. Available from the Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Binghamton, and UMI/Proquest, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006 (Master thesis).

Strategic Consumption: Archaeological Evidence for Costly Signaling among Enslaved Men and Women in the Eighteenth-century Chesapeake, by Jillian E. Galle. Available from the Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

The Affinities and Disparities within: Community and Status of the African American Slave Population at Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, by Amy C. Kowal. Available from the Department of Anthropology, Florida State University. 2007.

Slaves and Planters in Western Brazil: Material Culture, Identity and Power, by Luis C. P. Symanski. Available from the Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

The Dynamics of Industry as Seen from Van Winkle's Mill, Arkansas, by Alicia B. Valentino. Available from the Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas at Fayettsville, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Patterns of Bone Remodeling among Enslaved and Freed Historical African Americans, by Vicki L. Wedel. Available from the Department of Anthropology, University of California, at Santa Cruz, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Colonial Transformations of Death and Burial: Mortuary Analysis in North American Colonial Contexts, by Emily J. Weglian. Available from the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, and UMI/Proquest, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.


Oxala Woke up in Bahia: The Development of Yoruba Religious Communities in Salvador, Bahia, 1835-1986, by Miguel C. Alonso. Available from the Department of History, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Freedpeople's Democracy: African-American Politics and Community in Postemancipation Natchez District, by Justin J. Behrend. Available from the Department of History, Northwestern University, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Mapping Race, Erasing History: History, Space and Race in a United States Historically Black Community, by Mieka Brand. Available from the Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Enslaving Frontiers: Slavery, Trade and Identity in Benguela, 1780-1850, by Mariana P. Candido. Available from the Department of History, York University (Canada), and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

"To be Sold: A Negro Wench": Slave Ads of "The Montreal Gazette", 1785-1805, by Tamara Extian-Babiuk. Available from the Department of History, McGill University, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006 (Masters thesis).

From potential Christians to hereditary heathens: Religion and race in the early Chesapeake, 1590-1740, by Rebecca A. Goetz. Available from the Department of History, Harvard University, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Locating the Hidden Voices in African Museum Exhibitions: How "African Voices" at the Smithsonian Institution Politicizes Race, Class and Cultural Capital, by Kathy Littles. Available from the Department of History, University of California at Davis, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Africans and Their Descendants in Colonial Costa Rica, 1600-1750, by Kent R. Lohse. Available from the Department of History, University of Texas at Austin, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Unequally Bound: The Conditions of Slave Life and Treatment in Santos County, Brazil, 1822-1888, by Ian W. Read. Available from the Department of History, Stanford University, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2007.

Rethinking Representations of Slave Life at Historical Plantation Museums: Towards a Commemorative Museum Pedagogy, by Julie A. Rose. Available from the Department of History, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, and UMI/Proquest Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2006.

Housing and Living Patterns among Charleston's Free People of Color in Wraggborough, 1796-1877, by Katie A. Stojsavljevic. Available from the Department of History, Clemson University, and UMI/Proquest, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2007 (Master thesis).

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MoAD's I've Known Rivers

Museum of the African Diaspora

The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco,, presents an online exhibition entitled "I've Known Rivers: The MoAD Stories Project,"

MoAD describes this project as follows --

"In Africa it is said that when a griot, or oral historian, dies, 'a library has burned to the ground.' In recognition of the fabled tradition of the griot and in an effort to document stories of the African Diaspora . . . [MoAD] has embarked on a landmark project."

"I've Known Rivers: The MoAD Story Project is an unprecedented effort by an international museum to collect, publish, and archive "first voice" narratives about people of African descent. In light of the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and its effect on the lives of thousands of African Americans, this project's story-collecting mission takes on an even greater significance."

"An international museum based in San Francisco, California USA, MoAD is poised to become one of the world's pre-eminent cultural institutions. Unlike anything ever offered by a modern museum, I've Known Rivers: The MoAD Story Project will be similar in vision to the historic WPA Federal Writers' Project (1936 -1940), which archived thousands of items, including essays, oral testimony, folklore, and authentic narratives of ex-slaves about life during slavery."

Themes of stories by young authors in this project include --

Origins: "Stories that speak to our cultural and familial roots in Africa, whether from generation to generation or across continents, countries, islands and villages - these are the stories that distinguish the African experience."

Movement: "Stories that document how individuals, families and communities move continuously, sometimes seeking fresh prospects, sometimes forced by slavery, war, disaster, employment, or hope for a better life."

Adaptation: "Stories that reflect the adjustments and struggles made by people of African descent as the traditions and memories we carry with us evolve amid new surroundings and other cultures."

Transformation: "Stories that reflect how we transform ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually in dialogue with new places and create new traditions and new cultures."

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New Forum on "Lowcountry" Archaeology

Lowcountry region

Announcing organization of the Lowcounty Archaeology Forum! A collegial roundtable discussion group for those involved in archaeological research, broadly defined, in the Lowcounty of the southeast United States, broadly defined.

What are the important questions for archaeological research in the region? Bring your pet peeves and obsessions to discuss! Please spread the word to friends, colleagues, and the 'other usual suspects' by forwarding this message!

Initial organizing meeting: Friday, October 5, 2007, at the Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina, from 2:00pm to 5:00 pm. Convened by Martha Zierden and John McCarthy. RSVP to

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
Funds an Aerial Thermal Study of the New Philadelphia Town Site

By Christopher Fennell

New Philadelphia, Illinois was the first town platted and legally registered by an African American in the United States. Founded by Frank McWorter, a former slave, in 1836, this town grew as a demographically integrated community through the late nineteenth century. New Philadelphia was platted in a grid pattern with 42 acres of space, divided into 20 blocks, 144 lots, alleyways, and several streets. The town population reached a peak of approximately 160 people, 29 households, and merchant and crafts operations listed in the 1865 federal census. New Philadelphia was bypassed by a new railroad in 1869 and the population declined steadily thereafter. By 1885, the status of the community as a town was eliminated and large tracts of the land were put into agricultural use. Today, no structures from the town remain above ground, and the town site is covered by prairie grasses and agricultural fields.

New Philadelphia town site aerial photo
1998 high-altitude photograph of New Philadelphia town site, with overlay of 1836 plat of intended town design (U.S.G.S. archives, overlay by author).

Federal and state census records, tax records, and deeds provide extensive data about the town's residents. However, such historical documents do not provide a specific spatial map of household and merchant locations. Archaeological survey and excavations can map those locations in much greater detail to provide a richer data set for the social history of this community. The 1836 plat provides a plan for the town, including a grid pattern of streets, alleys, and lots, but the question remains as to whether this design was followed as the town developed. Indeed, newspaper reports during the town's existence indicated that town residents did not adhere to planned property lines in their building activities. Limited archaeological excavations at the town site, funded by the National Science Foundation’s program of Research Experiences for Undergraduates, have also uncovered early structures for which documentary evidence from deeds and other historical records provided no indications.

A number of archaeological survey and prospection methods have been employed previously at the New Philadelphia town site by collaborating researchers. These survey methods have included a pedestrian survey and surface collection of a large portion of the town site. Michael Hargrave, of the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory and U.S Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois, has also conducted 6.5 acres of surface-based geophysical surveys at the town site utilizing electric resistivity and magnetic gradient sensors. Due to the large size of New Philadelphia as platted, it is not practical to attempt surface-based geophysical surveys of the entire town site.

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) has now awarded funding to test the usefulness of low-altitude aerial surveys employing high resolution thermal imaging at New Philadelphia. This method will be employed at the town site for a new and specific purpose: determining whether this technology can detect the grid pattern of an historic town site buried beneath 1-2 feet of agricultural fields and prairie grasses. If successful, this technique will provide an extremely useful resource for applications on numerous similar sites throughout the nation.

Tommy Hailey of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and Bryan Haley of the University of Mississippi, have pioneered the techniques to be used in combination in this survey, and they will collect and process the survey data utilizing a powered parachute ultralight aircraft and a high resolution thermal camera. The exact timing of the survey will be determined based on ground cover, weather, and soil moisture conditions during the year. The data sets will be geo-referenced and integrated using spatial mapping programs, such as Geographic Information Systems software, and the creation of mosaic imaging representations. The survey results can then be examined in relation to a geo-referenced version of the 1836 town plan and other comparative data. Chris Fennell of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will serve as principal investigator and provide overall coordination of the project.

Additional information about the New Philadelphia archaeology project is available on the internet at and more information concerning the NCPTT is available at

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Should AP Add African-American History?

By Scott Jaschik
Inside Higher Education

Aug. 7, 2007

Article posted online by the
Inside Higher Education at:
Copyright 2007 Inside Higher Education.

The Advanced Placement program offers curriculums and testing in 37 areas -- chemistry and calculus, art history and Latin literature, Chinese language and culture and European history, to name just a few. But there is no AP in African-American history.

Some school district officials have recently suggested that such an AP program be created -- but the College Board is skeptical. College Board officials say their doubts have nothing to do with the significance of African-American history, but with the reactions they have received from college educators they have consulted. For a variety of reasons, the College Board says, college officials prefer to be teaching African-American history themselves, as opposed to having students enter college with AP credit in the field. If colleges wanted to have an AP offering in African-American history, the board would be open to the idea, its officials say.

The difference of opinion points to a number of questions that surround the AP program: Is its purpose to help students place out of introductory courses or to encourage them to study with greater rigor in high school (or both)? Why do some AP programs attract more members of certain ethnic or racial groups than others? Why are black students significantly less likely than the population as a whole to take AP courses? With many competitive colleges expecting applicants to have AP courses on their transcripts, should the College Board be trying new strategies to get more black students involved in the program? [Read this full article at Inside Higher Education >>>].

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Mayor Says London Shares
Blame for Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Associated Press

Aug. 23, 2007

Article posted online by the
Associated Press on CNN at:
Copyright 2007 Associated Press.

LONDON, England (AP) -- An emotional Mayor Ken Livingstone apologized Thursday for his city's role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, saying London was still tainted by it.

Mayor Livingstone
"Mayor of London Ken Livingstone burst into tears during his speech Thursday." Photo by AP.

The notoriously outspoken Livingstone seldom apologizes for anything, but he choked up as he read an account of the brutal tortures suffered by slaves in Britain's Caribbean colonies.

And the politician nicknamed "Red Ken" for his left-leaning views angrily denounced the role of his city's corporations in financing the trade.

"You can look across there to see the institutions that still have the benefit of the wealth they created out of slavery," Livingstone said, pointing through a huge window at the skyscrapers of the financial district. "As mayor, I offer an apology on behalf of London and its institutions for their role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson praised the statement, saying Livingstone broke important ground with his remarks. The civil rights leader said apologies should lead to reparations.

Livingstone did not explicitly mention restitution, but his tearful expression of remorse went further than a statement in March by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair on the 200th anniversary of the law that ended the slave trade. Blair expressed his deep sorrow, but did not make a direct apology.

Livingstone cultivates a maverick image, often clashing with the U.S. ambassador and even battling his own party.

His apology on the city's behalf, coupled with a demand that London's day of commemoration be instituted nationally, thrilled the crowd at city hall.

Livingstone said London would mark the horrors of slavery with an annual memorial day timed to coincide with the U.N.'s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, held every August 23.

London played a central role in the slave trade, outfitting, financing and insuring many of the ships that ferried living cargo to plantations in the New World. Revenue from the trade helped fund the construction of London's docks.

London is not the first to apologize for the trade. The port city of Liverpool, one of the great European slave-trading ports, formally apologized in 1999.

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New Book

Left Coast Press

Left Coast Press, Inc. is the new publisher of the archaeology list formerly of the University College of London Press in London. This includes books emanating from the well-respected Institute of Archaeology at the University College London (home of Flinders Petrie, a founder of modern archaeology) and the One World Archaeology series, sponsored by the World Archaeology Congress and formerly published by Routledge. More information on the Left Coast website at A new book of interest to African diaspora readers:

Reclaiming Heritage:
Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa
Ferdinand de Jong and Michael Rowlands (editors)
Cloth ($65.00), ISBN 978-1-59874-307-4, forthcoming in 12/07.

Description from the publisher:

    Struggles over the meaning of the past are common in postcolonial states. State cultural heritage programs build monuments to reinforce in nation building efforts -- often supported by international organizations and tourist dollars. These efforts often ignore the other, often more troubling memories preserved by local communities -- markers of colonial oppression, cultural genocide, and ethnic identity. Yet, as the contributors to this volume note, questions of memory, heritage, identity and conservation are interwoven at the local, ethnic, national and global level and cannot be easily disentangled. In a fascinating series of cases from West Africa, anthropologists, archaeologists and art historians show how memory and heritage play out in a variety of postcolonial contexts. Settings range from televised ritual performances in Mali to monument conservation in Djenne and slavery memorials in Ghana.

    Chapters include: 1. Heritage and Memory in Africa: Introduction, by Mike Rowlands and Ferdinand de Jong. 2. 'Taking on a Tradition': African Heritage and the Testimony of Memory, by Beverley Butler. 3. Slave Route Projects: Tracing the Heritage of Slavery in Ghana, by Katharina Schramm. 4. "We Don't Worship, We Remember." 5. Entangled Memories and Parallel Heritages in Mali, by Mike Rowlands. 6. 'Enchanting Town of Mud': Djenne, A World Heritage Site in Mali, by Charlotte Joy. 7. Masquerading as Intangible Heritage: Contradictions of Conservation, by Ferdinand de Jong. 8. From a Glorious Past to the Lands of Origin: Media Consumption and Changing Narratives of Cultural Belonging in Mali, by Dorothea Schulz. 9. Demystifying Memories: The Politics of Heritage in Today's Guinea, by Ramon Sarro. 10. Palimpsest Memoryscapes: Materializing and Mediating War and Peace in Sierra Leone, by Paul Basu.

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New Book

Crossroads and Cosmologies:
Diasporas and Ethnogenesis in the New World
By Christopher C. Fennell
Foreword by Robert Farris Thompson
192 pages, Cloth ($59.95), ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3141-5, forthcoming 10/14/2007; Series: Cultural Heritage Studies.
University Press of Florida

Description from the publisher and reviewers:

    Fennell book cover
    "A far-reaching anthropological study of African and African American religions, German American folkways, and archaeological methodology." -- Leland Ferguson, University of South Carolina.

    "The notion of 'emblematic' vs. 'instrumental' symbolism provides an exciting new model for analyzing material culture and its meanings for the people who produced it and used it." -- Anna Sophia Agbe-Davies, DePaul University.

    Fennell offers a fresh perspective on ways that the earliest enslaved Africans preserved vital aspects of their traditions and identities in the New World. He also explores similar developments among European immigrants and the interactions of both groups with Native Americans.

    Focusing on extant artifacts left by displaced Africans, Fennell finds that material culture and religious ritual contributed to a variety of modes of survival in mainland North America as well as in the Caribbean and Brazil. Over time, new symbols of culture led to further changes in individual customs and beliefs as well as the creation of new social groups and new expressions of identity.

    Presenting insights from archaeology, history, and symbolic anthropology, this book traces the dynamic legacy of the trans-Atlantic diasporas over four centuries, and it challenges existing concepts of creolization and cultural retention. In the process, it examines some of the major cultural belief systems of west and west central Africa, specific symbols of the BaKongo and Yoruba cosmologies, development of prominent African-American religious expressions in the Americas, and the Christian and non-Christian spiritual traditions of German-speaking immigrants from central Europe.

    Chapters include: 1. Introduction: Diasporas, Histories, and Heritage. 2. From the Diminutive to the Transatlantic. 3. Shared Meanings and Culture Dynamics; Core Symbols across a Continuum; A Core Symbol of the Bakongo Culture; Marking Social Group Contours; Expressions of Group Identity and Individual Purpose. 4. A Model for Diaspora Analysis; Interpreting Cultural Expressions through Ethnohistorical Analogy; Bakongo Culture in West Central Africa. 5. African Diasporas and Symbolism in the New World; Private Rituals in North America; Yoruba and Bakongo Dynamics in Cuba; Innovation of New Emblems in Haiti and Brazil; Afro-Christian Dynamics in North America. 6. European Diasporas and the Persistence of Magic; From the Palatinate to Virginia; Hexerei Practices among German Americans; Social Networks and Interpersonal Conflicts; Expressions Instrumental and Emblematic. 7. Creolization, Hybridity, and Ethnogenic Bricolage.

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UNESCO Remembrance of the Slave Trade

International Slavery Museum

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated August 23, 2007 as an "International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade." This commemoration was marked by the opening of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, which is the first museum of its kind in the United Kingdom. This new museum is located just yards away from the docks where 18th century slave trading ships were repaired and equipped. The year has been marked by plenty of activity, including a publication entitled the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807-2007, which is available online at, and numerous events, detailed online at

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Association for the Study
of the Worldwide African Diaspora.
Fourth Conference, Barbados, October 9-12, 2007.

ASWAD logo

In commemoration of the Bicentennial of the British and American Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the theme of the conference is Interrogations of Freedom: Memories, Meanings, Migrations. The conference is to be held October 9-12, 2007, in Barbados. The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill is hosting the conference as its signature program for the year, with co-sponsorship from New York University.

The conference will be research driven, featuring panels organized in ways which effectively stimulate discourse across geographic, disciplinary, cultural, and theoretical boundaries. All geographic areas will be represented, including Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The conference organizers plan to post papers on their website, and some may be selected for publication. Additional information and the conference program are available online at

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The Legacies of Slavery and Emancipation:
Jamaica in the Atlantic World.
Ninth Annual International Conference
November 1-3, 2007.

Legacies conference logo

Co-sponsored by The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Yale Center for British Art in conjunction with the exhibition "Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds."

The focus of this conference is one of the central themes of the exhibition: the unfinished legacy of Jamaican slavery, both for present-day Jamaica and the wider Atlantic world. Scholars from the UK, the US, and the West Indies, as well as visual artists, musicians, and film-makers will investigate a range of topics including labor, religion, and the legacies of slavery in Jamaica and Britain. Complementing these panels will be a series of "break out" sessions in the exhibition and the collections of the YCBA and other institutions at Yale in which the broader conceptual and historical issues debated during the conference can be brought to bear on the analysis of specific objects and images.

Panels include: the Legacies of Slavery in Jamaica; the Legacies of Jamaican Slavery in the United Kingdom; Labor and the Legacies of Slavery; Music and the Legacies of Slavery. Breakout session topics include: the Middle Passage and Iconography of the Slave Ship; Sugar and the Plantation; Afro-Jamaican Performance and Art; Contemporary Afro-Caribbean Art; Anglo-Jamaican Print Culture; Slave Gardens. The conference will also feature a performance by a local reggae band and a screening of Stephanie Black's film "Life and Debt." All conference activities will be held at the YCBA, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT.

This conference is free and open to the public. Registration is required. To register, please e-mail Serena Guerrette at For more information and a complete conference schedule as it becomes available, visit

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International Workshop
Alcohol in the Atlantic World:
Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.
York University, Toronto, Ontario, October 24-27, 2007.

workshop image

This workshop features research presentations on (among other things) the production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol commodities and many resulting impacts on African and African diaspora locations. From the organizers' web site --

"Since humans discovered the effects that could be derived from alcohol there has been interest in its economic and social benefits as well as its negative effects on individuals and society. Yet the systematic study of alcohol in its varied historical and sociological manifestations is still in its infancy since it is usually relegated only to discussions of morality and sensational journalism."

"Alcohol in the Atlantic World: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives is an international workshop aimed at exploring the ways in which alcohol provided a mechanism for integrating the Atlantic world, viz, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The focus is on the commonalities and differences in the production, distribution and consumption within this described geographical entity. The participants in the Workshop will present papers which cover: the techniques of production (the fermentation and distillation possibilities of byproducts from mainstream commodities, changes in systems of production and their associated technologies, the varied uses of labour); systems of distribution within colonies and between colonies and metropoles as alcohol, as a commodity of trade, moved around the Atlantic world and between producers and consumers; and the varied uses of alcohol and its impact in the consuming areas of the Atlantic world."

Learn more and view the preliminary program online at

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Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics
of Caribbean Religion and Healing.
Newcastle University, U.K., July 16-18, 2008.

conference image

This interdisciplinary conference will bring together scholars who are interested in the connections between religion and power in the Caribbean: the power of colonial and postcolonial states, of ruling elites, of subaltern communities, of nationalism, of ritual specialists, and of the spirits, lwas, orishas, and ancestors. We situate Caribbean religions within their broad historical and social contexts and are particularly interested in work relating to those communities, practices and belief systems that have been stigmatized or even outlawed, most of which have been symbolically connected to Africa. These include obeah, quimbois, santería/ regla de ocha, vodou, Rastafari, kali mai puri, the Spiritual Baptist religion / the Converted, brujería, palo monte, Orisha, pocomania/ pukkumina, winti, and Revival Zion.

Paper titles and abstracts (approximately 200-500 words) should be sent to Diana Paton or Maarit Forde by 31 October 2007 at the latest. Papers will be circulated in advance of the conference. Learn more at the conference web site:

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Closing of the Slave Trades: Transatlantic Perspectives
Belfast, Northern Ireland, May 29-31, 2008.

Call for Proposals: The abolition of the international slave trades in the United Kingdom (1807) and the United States (1808) was perhaps only a small step for these nation-states, but created significant consequences for national identities and cultural developments within each sovereignty and spheres of influence. Millions of kidnapped Africans were transported as unfree labor for European colonies. Emerging democracies in the New World, including Haiti, which pioneered emancipation for slaves, launched a new era for victims of the African diaspora.

Scores of commemorative events and programs have highlighted the anniversary of these watershed events in recent months. In May 2008 we will gather in Belfast at a conference co-sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Center for Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University and the School of History and Anthropology at Queen's University to contemplate both trans-Atlantic perspectives on this renewed examination of the beginning of the end the slave trade's dominance of the Atlantic World. Special attention will be paid to the influence of Irish antislavery during this transforming epoch. Our program will include reflections on how to best continue our project of expanding slavery studies and anti-slavery efforts within the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Museum curators, public historians, and scholars from a variety of disciplines and institutions will come together with a goal of creating an ongoing network of resources to highlight the ways and means of keeping antislavery commemorations in the forefront.

In addition to a single day's series of panels, we will be sponsoring a roundtable (to be held one day in advance of the main program) highlighting new and emerging scholarship by postgraduates. This competitive invitation will allow three students in graduate programs (enrolled or applying) to present new work on the slave trades and the transatlantic context, chaired and critiqued by the conference co-convenors.

Candidates are invited to apply for presentation of their work (20 page essays only) at our Postgraduate Roundtable On Thursday, May 29th. Travel and accommodation to and from Belfast will be paid for all successful candidates. Solicitations are sought on any or all aspects of the historical significance of the abolition of the international slave trades -- with comparative approaches and/or materials on Ireland especially welcome. Candidates should send a brief c.v., a one- to two-page proposal, and two letters of recommendation to: The Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University, PO Box 208206, New Haven, CT 06520-8206; Attn: Postgraduate Roundtable Competition. Electronic Applications may be submitted to: Application Deadline: November 30, 2007.

The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition’s web site is available at:

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table of contents]

Editor's Note on Book Reviews

John McCarthy is coordinating book reviews to be written for this Newsletter, and he has received review copies of a number of books from presses that he can supply to individuals who agree to write a review of such recent publications. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in book review assignments for the African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, please drop John a note, at A reviewer receives a free copy of the book.

I also will occasionally 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. Other reviews are available on the H-Net Reviews web site. -- Chris Fennell

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Book Commentary

book cover

Jay B. Haviser and Kevin C. MacDonald, editors. African Re-Genesis: Confronting Social Issues in the Diaspora. London: UCL Press/Walnut Creek, CA.: Left Coast Press, Hardback (978-1-59874-217-6) $79.00, Paperback (978-1-59874-283-1) $34.95, 294 pp., May 2006.

Commentary by John P. McCarthy, S&ME, Inc., Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Personal Observations on the Expanding Scope of African Diaspora Archaeology Publications

At the outset I need to acknowledge a certain conflict of interest in offering this commentary, and that is why I titled it "personal observations" rather than "a review." I happen to be one of the contributing authors of the volume discussed herein. My paper, "African community identity at the cemetery," is included on pages 176 to 183. I offer the following by way of explanation: The way in which this volume was published and distributed made it very difficult to obtain a copy. While published for the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) by the UCL Press in London, the volume is now available through Left Coast Press, the current publisher of two book series for WAC: Research Handbooks in Archaeology and the One World Archaeology Series. I believe that the current arrangement offers much improved access for those of us in North America. But given what I feel is the significance of the volume, I choose to offer my observations on the book rather than wait to see if I could obtain a copy to give to a reviewer. If another copy is provided (are you reading this Mitch Allen?), I will happily commission a more independent review (noting that there is really no such thing as a completely independent review given how small our community is and each practitioner's history with everyone else).

That said, One World Archaeology Volume 23 presents a selection of papers inspired by the WAC Intercongress on the African Diaspora held in Curacao, Netherland Antilles in May 2001. I write "inspired" because this is not really a proceedings volume. While centered on papers delivered at the conference, the volume also includes papers commissioned after the conference, some conference papers have been significantly revised, and some conference papers that I was expecting would be published are not included.

The overall theme of the volume is one with which the readers of this newsletter are already quite familiar: that despite hardship and brutality, African culture was not extinguished in the Diaspora, but was transformed by contacts with new cultures and environments to survive and re-emerge, phoenix-like, but yet still a part of the continuum of African traditions. It is however, rewarding to see what we have taken for granted for some time recognized and celebrated on the broad international stage that WAC represents.

What is news is that the study of the African Diaspora is maturing and efforts to identify and explore cultural survivals (retentions such the Colonoware of the Carolina Lowcountry) have shifted to studies seeking to document syncretistic processes such as the creolization that resulted when Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans came into contact. We are shifting increasingly from what, to how and why, becoming less description "bound" and more interpretive in what we do. What is becoming evident is that archaeology's ability to bridge time and distance, and its comparative focus, places our discipline in a unique position to support such efforts. Accordingly, our research efforts need to expand temporally, geographically, and conceptually if we are to succeed in documenting the variability and transformative processes of African cultures in the New World.

The editors provide a succinct introduction to the volume that identifies key themes and weave a web connecting the various essays that follow. The 20 papers that comprise the body of the volume are divided into four groups: I. Heritage and contemporary identities; II. Historical and anthropological perspectives; III. Archaeology and living communities; and IV. Slavery in Africa: other Diasporas. It is impossible to do these papers justice in a brief review. However, the vast scope of the volume, which includes papers based on work throughout the New World, West Africa, and into the Indian Ocean basin, provides a refreshing change of perspective for those whose work is mostly on the North American continent. Slavery and the African Diaspora are brought home as world-wide phenomena, the continuing analysis of which requires a comparative perspective that is as broad as is the phenomena itself.

There are two additional issues that I think are significant and worthy of comment here. First, this volume addresses the essence of the African Diaspora not only in archaeological terms, but also in interdisciplinary terms with contributions by cultural anthropologists, folklorists, historians, and linguists allowing, perhaps for the first time, a unique perspective on broader trends in the transformation and (re-) emergence of African Diaspora cultures. I also think those non-archaeologists walked away from the WAC conference with a deeper understanding of the contributions archaeology is capable of making.

Finally, as most readers of this newsletter know, research on the African Diaspora is relevant to modern communities. In fact, two of the papers in the volume are explicitly concerned with the experiences of African-American tourists in Africa, but less is said about the impact of that tourism on the communities visited. But this issue for me always comes back to trying to understand what my responsibilities are and a need to balance the interests of both the living and those who have gone before. What we do as researchers working on issues related to the African Diaspora requires sensitivity to the interplay of our interpretations of the past with contemporary racial and cultural identities and political realties. What we do is not academic in the pejorative sense of being irrelevant; but rather needs to be academic in the best sense of intellectual rigor and close attention to detail.

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Book Review

Lucas cover

Published by H-SouthAfrica, (June 2007).

Gavin Lucas. An Archaeology of Colonial Identity: Power and Material Culture in the Dwars Valley, South Africa. Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology Series. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 2004. x + 223 pp. Illustrations, maps, references, index. $110.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-306-48537-4; $39.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-306-48538-1.

Reviewed for H-SAfrica by Yvonne Brink, Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town.

Gavin Lucas begins this book by remarking that many ceramic shards found in Iceland, where he now works, are of the same Chinese porcelain as those found at the Cape, in Australia, the Americas, and the islands of the East. He sees this as a sign that globalization is not something that arrived with the advent of the new millennium, but a process that began with the voyages of discovery from the fifteenth century onwards. Globalization, then, along with its connections to colonialism and the rise of European capitalism, is a theme running through the book.

Lucas shows how matters important to the wider world both impacted and were influenced by events around an obscure river valley in a small Dutch colony at the southern tip of Africa. Ultimately, Lucas suggests that it is here, at the Cape, which he rather poetically and not at all irrelevantly calls a space between, that European capitalism really originated. The book is about his attempts to substantiate these ideas with reports on his work in the Dwars River valley in the district of Drakenstein, South Africa. Through archeological excavation, archival research, and oral histories (obtained from the descendants of freed slaves who lived there in the nineteenth century), he is able to slot themes such as colonialism and consumption in with the main theme of global capitalism. Lucas sees the construction and articulation of colonial identity as "the unifying force which binds them together" (p. 2).

The book is to be welcomed, first for the mere fact of its being a study in historical archeology, of which, in spite of a recent increase in number, we still have too few. Second, because he gives his arguments a firm theoretical base, although I feel that the chapter on theory could have come at the beginning rather than at the end.

The opening chapter sets out the author's way of working, and here there is much to be admired. First, Lucas is clearly appreciative of the inherent intertextual nature of writing, including his own, which he admits is heavily dependent on the work of others and is therefore as much an act of retelling as an originary event. But he is also aware that intertextuality permeates "all" texts and this enables him to look critically at archival and oral source material -- something not always taken seriously in archeological studies. He studies what he calls his "visual archive" -- sketches, paintings, photographs, and cartography--with the same critical eye as written and oral sources before effecting a match between image and text. Third, he sees his sources as produced in a particular context and tied in to the prevailing discourses of the time they were produced. There is a hint here that issues of language are important to Lucas, and I would have liked a more profound theoretical exploration of this idea. Central to his work is the belief that, in the structuring of identity, material culture is not simply a veneer but is "deeply and fundamentally constitutive" of it (p. 8); yet he also speaks of material culture as "discourse/materiality," rather than taking an older Marxist view which sees culture as discourse and nature as materiality. For Lucas, the construction of subjectivities is "both" discursive and material (pp. 187-188), and with this I wholeheartedly concur. Finally, he suggests that identity is inextricably linked with power, and material culture is a means of articulating power.

Using the excavated cargo of the wrecked East Indiaman "Geldermalsen" to exemplify the kinds of goods traded with the East, Lucas sees it as summing up the nature of European activity in the Indian Ocean during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the Cape becoming an ever more important stopover. It is not until the last chapter, after examining connections between Europe, South Africa, and Asia in terms of the movements of objects and people, that he explains his belief that capitalism emanated not from Europe, but from "an ambiguous in-between space created through European and Asian interaction" (p. 188). The question he asks is how this Cape, this in-between space, this halfway station and its architecture contributed to the understanding of the processes of global capitalism. The answer is that it is precisely because it "was" a halfway station that it enabled Euro-Asian trade to be instituted and to flourish. The desire of Cape people for the exotic, Eastern goods that they could exploit for articulating status and identity in a sense prefigured the modern consumer culture. The Cape thus played a significant role in the development of European capitalism and the transition from mercantilism to industrialism.

He also views the discovery of diamonds and gold in South Africa, during the nineteenth century, from the space-between perspective. For Lucas the development of colonial multinational mining companies contradicts ideas that capitalism emerged from Europe. His perspective emphasizes the importance of colonial space in the process. He sees the dispersed nature of multinationals, largely due to modern airfreight and the Internet, as meaning that companies are no longer defined by national boundaries and many are relocating "back into the space of former colonies" (p. 192). Readers will have to decide for themselves whether the arguments are convincing enough to warrant a possible change in mindset, but here there is certainly food for thought.

The Dutch East India Company (VOC) was no international giant, but in its own way, it enjoyed global mercantile importance. Lucas sees the placing of its monogram on almost everything it owned -- from buildings to plates and glassware -- as an attestation of corporate identity and as symbolic of the eye the Company kept on everything that went on at the Cape. As an example of the way the VOC exerted control, even over free enterprise undertakings, Lucas uses mining activities on the slopes of the Simonsberg in the Dwars River valley. Although the mine operated during the 1740s as a private concern with twenty-two shareholders, the three top directors were important VOC officials. Based, as it was, on a story (a mythical one as it turned out) told by a somewhat unsavory ex-VOC serviceman of a rich ore deposit in the region, it is not surprising that the project folded. The VOC participated in the gamble because of a desperate need for silver to pay for its trade goods. Lucas therefore sees this seemingly minor undertaking as an important link between the Cape settlement and the global trade network. The story of the mine is well told and epitomizes one of the strengths of the book: the author's ability to make what could easily have been presented as dry, historical data come alive by engaging with characters on the periphery of traditional history.

Archeological work at the mine, where two sites were identified, appears to have been minimal, consisting of a survey of the remains of nine buildings, excavation of what is considered to have been the main house on Site One, and a pick-up collection around the laborers' quarters on Site Two. Although there is a diagram of the sites showing the layout of the structures and their floor plans, there is no indication of exactly where the archaeological work was conducted, and there are no illustrations of this work. Comparing the sites at the Goede Verwachting mine and excavations at the Company outpost of Paradise in Newlands, Cape Town, Lucas finds "close similarities" in both the layout and the form of the buildings (p. 55). While one could agree as far as the layout is concerned, there is a glaring difference between the floor plans of the two main houses. The rectangular buildings of the earlier phases appear to be more or less the same, but later additions do away with the similarity. At Paradise, the traditional Cape Dutch pattern was followed with extensions added to the rear, thus preserving the important frontal symmetry. At Goede Verwachting, the symmetry of the facade was devastated when a large chunk of the "stoep" was cut off, to build on of a strong room at the "front" of the house. There could hardly have been close resemblance between the final phases of the Paradise and Goede Verwachting dwellings, and this major difference should be foregrounded and discussed rather than smoothed over for the sake of continuity.

Lack of discussion of a thorny issue is also a problem with part of the third chapter, where Lucas deals with contact between settlers and indigenous Khoisan people. Confronted with the question of whether there "really" were two separate indigenous groups -- Khoi herders ("Hottentots") and San or Soaqua hunter-gatherers ("Bushmen") -- Lucas laments the lack of archeological research covering the contact period and explains that he is forced to rely on historical studies. These he accepts rather too uncritically. What he calls "some ambiguity" (p. 69) about the indigenous groups is, in fact, a matter of serious and ongoing archaeological debate. The opinions of prehistorians Andrew Smith and John Parkington, based on their thorough archaeological research, as well as the counter-arguments of others such as Karim Sadr have a very definite bearing on historians' notions of the fluidity of relations between the groups. Smith and Parkington are not convinced that the interchange between hunter-gatherer and herder lifeways was as uncomplicated a process as some historians make it seem. The existence of the debate, at least, needs to be brought to the attention of readers.

The rest of this chapter is an overview of changing patterns of landownership in the Dwars River valley, showing how differentiation developed within the settler community and how this manifested itself in material culture. Again, Lucas tells a delightful story, this time of the two farming families, De Villiers and Van As. The former were Huguenot settlers, the latter of mixed Dutch/slave descent. The Van As family disappeared from the scene after becoming particularly large landowners, leaving the De Villierses to exemplify the history frequently occurring at the Cape: development from lowly beginnings as cereal farmers and livestock owners to wealthy, slave-owning wine-producers. It is an absorbing story, well told, about people, places, and the things they owned and used. The "werf" and buildings of the De Villiers farm are the focus of Lucas's archeological work.

Two of the standing buildings are dated from 1821 and 1832, and Lucas sees them as representing the zenith of the owners' aspirations in material consumption. We are given a diagram of the "werf" in the nineteenth century, and a separate eighteenth-century reconstruction. The precise locations of Lucas's archeological efforts are not, however, drawn into the site maps. This, as well as the separation of the diagrams, makes it difficult to envisage exactly what Lucas did, especially as the verbal description is somewhat confusing. We do not know how many test pits he dug or where they were dug. There are no illustrations of the archeological work -- not even a photograph of an excavation or a section drawing of a test pit. There is little that we have come to expect in a work that calls itself "An Archaeology." While Lucas laments the lack of archeological work on which to base his own, I cannot help feeling that if he had made more of his own archeological work and been more meticulous in presenting it, this book would have gone considerably further in rectifying this lacuna. A follow-up study giving more archeological detail might be welcome.

Having first described an eighteenth-century gentrification process at Goede Hoop, in keeping with that of other studies, Lucas takes the progression through to include British influence in the nineteenth century. Two late nineteenth-century buildings reflect the trend. One of these is very small and he suggests this was a "retreat." The other is a dwelling clearly reflecting British influence, but with retention of the idea of the old Cape Dutch "voorhuis" in a very large dining/sitting room behind a narrow "English" entrance hall. What I find particularly interesting about this building is that it gives a hint of the possible complexity involved in what, no doubt, must have been a gradual dissipation of the symbolism tied up in the Cape Dutch building tradition accumulated during almost 150 years of VOC rule. This is a topic awaiting in-depth research. British influence included values: for example, new ideas about respectability and the separation of work from home. The already evident differentiation between poor and wealthy was extended to include gender and class, as separation between male and female spheres of activity became more marked.

As a lead into a chapter on slavery, Lucas attributes all Cape prosperity to the fact that slave labor was readily available. If the suggestion is that the Cape could not have achieved what other colonies achieved without slaves, I foresee debate resulting from this issue. Overall Lucas's overview of slavery at the Cape marks a high point in the book. I do have problems, though, with the way he lightly speaks of "Creole" slaves and blithely accepts the opinion that Afrikaans was a creole language "developed as a language between slaves" (p. 122). Perhaps more reading is required here. The origin of Afrikaans has been, for many years, the topic of in-depth research by scholars of international repute both in South Africa and in the Netherlands. The result is a great deal of debate and a variety of opinions -- most of which do not accept the creole hypothesis. The idea that Afrikaans is a creole language has also been tested and rejected by academics whose speciality is creole and pidgin languages wherever in the world they occur. I suggest Lucas familiarize himself with this work.

Lucas mentions several valid reasons for the difficulties archeologists experience in identifying a Cape slave signature in the historical record. The most important is the fact that separate living space for slaves, such as the slave quarters on American plantations, were rare at the Cape, so there are very few locations where archaeologists can expect to find "slave deposits." Lucas has little to say about slave resistance besides mentioning that opportunities for resistance were limited. Here, again, I feel he could have relied less on the work of historians (such as Robert Shell and Kirsten McKenzie) and more on archeological work, for example, Martin Hall's elegant and sophisticated use of James Scott's concept of "hidden transcripts" for understanding slave resistance.[1] One begins to ask the niggling question of whether this kind of work is not fuel for the fires of critics of historical archeology who look upon it as merely a "handmaiden to history."

Nevertheless, there is much that is positive in the chapter on slaves. For instance, instead of simply looking at their lot after arrival at the Cape, Lucas looks back to their lives before European enslavement; that is, he examines slavery at its African and, to a lesser extent, Asian sources. This side of the story is not often told -- perhaps because it is a story not a lot of people want to hear. Here we do have discussion of debates ensuing from the meager research undertaken thus far. An important issue is whether there is justification for seeing indigenous African slavery as absorptionist (slaves are assimilated into the owner's household and culture), whereas European slavery is the greater evil because it is capitalist (slaves are commodified). His overall (and probably correct) conclusion is that European slavery was worse because it acted as a spur to indigenous slavery in that it brought additional wealth, status, and power to the chiefs, thus breaking down an existing ethics of African slavery.

Returning to the archeology of the Goede Hoop farm, Lucas compares the building he has interpreted as a nineteenth-century slave lodge to the very early eighteenth-century lodge excavated by Anne Markell at the governor's farm Vergelegen. Once more, he sees similarity in the layout, describing the slave lodge at Goede Hoop as situated behind the main house, "squeezed out of sight . . . along with the garbage" (p. 139). Similarity is again debatable. I do not see the Vergelegen lodge as "squeezed behind the main house." I am also not convinced that the Goede Hoop building was for slave accommodation. The building is only about one meter shorter than the one at Vergelegen, where there were over one hundred slaves. Goede Hoop would have had vastly fewer slaves, although we are not told how many. A 1736 probate inventory of the wife of Abraham de Villiers lists seven male slaves and one female (p. 93). Lucas notes that generally "slaves lived in small groups of less than ten on individual farms. Only 1 percent of slave owners had more than fifty in the mid-eighteenth century" (pp. 125-126). There is no argument for Goede Hoop falling within the 1 percent, although Lucas does point out that more slaves would have been purchased with the increasing wine production during the nineteenth century. I believe that more research is necessary before the building can unequivocally be interpreted as exclusively a slave lodge.

What I can agree with is that slaves would have perceived the landscape differently from the gentry. For the latter the landscape would, as Lucas says, have been constituted as a material inscription of family relations and alliances -- a landscape of property and status articulated through kinship. Slaves, on the other hand, would have been much more aware of the fragmentation of the landscape into plots and farms with spaces between and land outside of private ownership. Lucas sees these as spaces into which they could at times escape the power network which held them constantly captive and where they could, perhaps, fashion a sense of identity different to that prescribed by the owners. Lucas argues intriguingly that the derelict mine, and its abandoned buildings, would have had even more to offer than the natural bush for temporarily escaping control and exploring an alternate sense of identity.

The last part of the slavery chapter is devoted to the post-emancipation period, taking the story through into the twentieth century. Largely, it is the story of the founding and flourishing of the Pniel Mission Station under the auspices of the Apostolic Union. It is a fascinating tale, pieced together more than adequately from the source material, including interviews with present day residents. As opposed to the leading, land-owning De Villierses, we are introduced to the Cysters family who, in their own way, attained a status position in the village and hold it to this day. Interestingly, Lucas informs us that the Cysters's house is somewhat different than the rest and resembles the Cape Dutch style more closely than do the others. This section marks another high point in the book, not least because it devotes most attention to the material culture. We are offered a reasonably comprehensive general overview of house styles with diagrams indicating changes through time. There is also a closer scrutiny of one individual "werf."

Most Pniel residents are descendants of slaves, or connected to slavery in some other way. One particularly interesting observation is that in earlier years, they were loath to admit to their slave connections, but this has changed. They now reminisce more freely and retell stories told by grandparents and other older people. It is possible that Pniel's incorporation into UNESCO plans for preserving the slave heritage and the establishing of a slave route for tourists is playing an important part in this change. But the village itself has played a major role too. From the beginning, it allowed freed slaves to experience family life differently, since they could bring up their children in their own way in their own homes without interference from owners. They could keep livestock and grow crops in their own gardens. Many continued to work for the farmers, assuaging the latter's concerns about labor shortages after emancipation, but now they were paid, worked on a day-to-day basis, and were free to leave if they so chose.

As Pniel flourished and grew, so too did developments in the land-owning section of the valley. Farming on an industrial scale began in earnest when large farms purchased by C. J. Rhodes were taken over and extended by two successive giant corporations. The second, Anglo-American, is still operative in the valley landscape, now transformed by encroaching capitalism. Today company executives occupy old Cape Dutch country manor houses once dwelt in by local farmers.

The chapter ends with Lucas's views of the beginnings of Apartheid under the British. It was during British rule that the seeds for the policies of Apartheid were sewn as they were an extension and adaptation of pre-existing strategies written into the 1910 constitution of the Union of South Africa. Similarly, the early segregationist laws of 1913 and 1923 are seen as tied to British imperialist ideals. It was against this background that Pniel was later designated a "rural Colored area," in the midst of agricultural land designated "white" (p. 173). Here, too, Lucas offers us food for thought.

The final chapter contains a theoretical discussion and introduces stimulating new ideas. Lucas shows how landowners grown wealthy through agricultural production, in which slaves played an enabling role, forged a high-status class of landed gentry. Largely through architecture and cultivated land, this superior identity was put on display so that landowners could be "seen" to be an elite. Underclass laborers, who had no wealth to display, built a different identity based on their affiliation to the church and its high moral values, on their freedom (albeit as laborers), and, later, on a certain pride in their slave heritage and the fact that they survived and overcame the demeaning difficulties of the past to emerge as worthy human beings. Ironically, it is the very slave heritage that they now seem keen to display through participation in the Slave Route Project, through genealogical research, and through writing and recounting memories from the past.

In the theoretical discussion, Lucas returns to the question of globalization and summarizes the way in which events in the insignificant little valley tied in with the larger themes of colonialism and capitalism. He explains how studying such small places can contribute to "a global historical archaeology" (p. 178). While critical of some earlier forms of Marxism, he nevertheless still takes a predominantly Marxist stance as he discusses the intricately interwoven web of relations between race, class, and gender. These are big issues, which Lucas tackles boldly, leading the reader on to re-confront some of the controversies surrounding these matters in a global as well as a local context.

As though saving the best for last, the final few pages offer us a gem of material culture studies. Wanting to keep the newly discovered mineral wealth of the Transvaal in British hands, British forces embarked on a failed raid that triggered the Anglo-Boer Wars at the end of the nineteenth century. It is against this background that Lucas tells the engaging story of a republican coin that a soldier relative brought back to England and which was subsequently framed, thus gaining the status of a badge. While contemplating the badge, Lucas explains how mass production of "small things" reminiscent of the buttons, broken bits of pottery, and food remains studied by James Deetz, can give us insight into past lifeways.[2] For Lucas it is postcards; cigarette and other collectible cards; and a whole variety of everyday objects decorated with emblems that became bound up with ideas of colonialism, "empire," and what it meant to be British. The ideology embodied in material things was extended to cover almost all walks of mundane life and to include the whole British value system as well, so that ideals such as the respectability of the clean British home became part of it. For me, Lucas is at his most eloquent here, as he offers readers this clear and concise illustration of the close connection between values, identity, and material culture.

The book, then, has its ups and downs. Besides ending on a high note, it is dotted with provocative ideas requiring careful reflection. It is certainly worth reading, provided one can overlook the rather skimpy archaeology, too much uncritical reliance on the opinions of others regarding important issues still under debate, an over-reliance on historical as opposed to archaeological information, the nuisance of not having a list of illustrations, and shoddy editing. Astonishingly, the first sentence reads: "This book is the based on the work of many people" (p. vii). After reaching thirty-six errors, I gave up counting. Several names are occasionally spelt incorrectly, but "Meerrust" is always printed "Meerust." We find "Henrdrik" for "Hendrik" (p. 29), "Shrire" for "Schrire" (p. 69), and "Kelson" for "Kelso" (p. 215). The rest comprise a variety of types of errors too numerous to mention. As far as apostrophes are concerned, I get the impression that they were randomly added as an afterthought -- just to have some. This is unfortunate and simply not good enough for an expensive book in a prestigious series.


[1].  Robert Shell, Children of Bondage: A Social History of the Cape of Good Hope, 1652-1838 (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1994); Kirsten McKenzie, The Making of an English Slave Owner: Samuel Eusebius Hudson at the Cape of Good Hope 1796-1807 (Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press in association with Centre for African Studies, 1993); James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990); and Martin Hall, Archaeology and the Modern World: Colonial Transcripts in South Africa and the Chesapeake (London: Routledge, 2000).

[2].  James Deetz, In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology of Early American Life (New York: Anchor Books, 1977).

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Book Review

Gabino La Rosa Corzo cover

Published by H-Atlantic, (July 2007).

Gabino La Rosa Corzo. Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba: Resistance and Repression. Translated by Mary Todd. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. 292 pp. Illustrations, maps, appendices, glossary, notes, bibliography, index. $65.00 cloth, ISBN 0-8078-2803-3; $24.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8078-5479-4.

Reviewed for H-Atlantic by Antonio Santamaría García, Área de Cultura Científica, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain; translated by Jodi Campbell, Texas Christian University.

Studies on slavery, whether broadly international or focused on particular slave-based societies such as Cuba, constitute a principal historiographic theme. The analysis of this theme has its roots in the time when the trade in Africans was still practiced, and scholars have adopted multiple approaches from distinct angles through and across disciplines. Within this panorama, however, it is still possible to make new and interesting contributions, though this requires a notable effort. This is the case with Gabino La Rosa Corzo's book Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba, an investigation of the palenques or settlements of fugitive slaves, translated from its original Spanish edition, Los palenques del oriente de Cuba: resistencia y acoso (1991).

La Rosa addresses the widest possible chronological framework. The book begins with the colonization of Cuba and the first recorded slave uprising in Jobabo in 1533, and pays particular attention to the events of El Portillo in 1743, the first large-scale attack on a slave settlement. Although this first chapter of the book, dedicated to the period before the nineteenth century and to the origin and development of the early modern slave-based Cuban plantation system, is intended to serve as an introduction, it is well crafted and particularly valuable given the scarcity of studies on this time period.

The focal point of Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba, however, is centered on the years following the Haitian Revolution of 1791, when this Greater Antilles island became the sugar bowl of the world, adapted its colonial relationship with Spain to facilitate the development of commercial agriculture and fruit exportation, and substantially increased its importation of slaves, necessary to the labor of sugar production given the island's low population. Chapters 2 through 4 are a chronological study of the stages of the growth, consolidation, and decline of the slave-based plantation, while the last chapter analyzes the palenque as a system of resistance.

In regard to its analytical framework, this book chiefly addresses the eastern half of Cuba, less populated and more economically underdeveloped than the western half. This has important implications, especially given that one of the author's arguments is that the slave settlements of the eastern part of the island were not concentrations of escaped slaves from all over the territory, as has traditionally been believed to be the case due to the isolation of the region. Rather, they came from the nearby surroundings. Therefore, one of the implicit conclusions of the book is that it is necessary to study the corresponding patterns on the other side of the island. A second main issue (implied, though not directly stated) is that the geographical focus of the study allows it to explain why the cimarron settlements of eastern Cuba began to disappear before the process of abolition. This process began with the colony's first war of independence (1868-78), because the area's economy remained underdeveloped and the majority of the sugar mills disappeared in the process of modernization of the second half of the nineteenth century.

Within this framework, La Rosa's research is very interesting in that it addresses relatively unknown aspects of slavery with a refined, complete, and interdisciplinary methodology that combines the tools of history, anthropology, and archaeology, and contributes new knowledge to all three. The diaries of the slave-hunters, to which the author has dedicated a previous monograph (Cazadores de esclavos: diarios [2004]), along with official, civil, and military documentation about the slave settlements and the conflicts that developed with them, are the principal archival sources. In addition to these, the author uses information gleaned from excavations carried out on the settlement sites themselves, from which he reconstructs maps and diagrams that are essential to the study.

The author also uses his analysis of the palenques to study the daily lives of slaves, and by extrapolation, the habits and customs that were common to them and to rural Cubans in general. La Rosa is interested in the nature of the economy, the kind of agriculture that was practiced, what foods were cultivated, and the daily routines of the islanders, all of which are valuable additions to the principal theme of the work.

Along with the aforementioned conclusions, La Rosa analyzes the kind of locations that slaves chose for their hideouts: hidden locations that were easily defended and located near potential shelters so that the settlement could be quickly abandoned in case of attack. A particularly interesting conclusion is that the fugitive slave population was not particularly belligerent, and generally chose flight rather than confrontation when it felt threatened.

Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba analyzes one of the multiple forms of black resistance to slavery on this Greater Antilles island. Similar work on this topic has been published by José Luciano Franco and Francisco Pérez de la Riva, but in general, and particularly in recent decades, historians have been more interested in other forms of resistance, including rebellions and political and legal battles, such as those studied by Rebecca J. Scott, Gloria García Rodríguez, and Manuel Barcia Paz. The lack of references is surprising, and the book does not incorporate the most recent scholarship in this field into its text or brief bibliography. This is understandable given that the original text was written over a decade ago, but it is regrettable that the translation of this book in English was not taken as an opportunity to update the material. This is the only defect in an otherwise excellent and important study.

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to Chris Fennell at
Last updated: September 13, 2007
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