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Opposing Views in African-American Archaeology: Use of Resistance or Risk Management to Explain Cultural Material of the Enslaved

Author(s): Alicia Odewale

Year: 2015

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Summary

This paper argues that theories in favor of resistance as the primary cultural response of enslaved African-Americans do not offer a complete picture of the diasporic experience but rather theories in risk management offer a better explanation for the variation inherent in slave responses and material culture. Risk management theories suggest resistance as only one of a myriad of responses a slave community might choose in reaction to their environment. When investigating the residential spaces and subfloor pits of enslaved Africans across Southern plantations, symbols of both resistance and risk management are represented in everyday utilitarian objects such as ceramics, metal housewares, tools, ammunitions, and other European-American materials, which were often adopted and reused in ways that were meaningful to enslaved peoples. While historical narratives indicate that resistance would have been a daily occurrence and would have been a major factor in how slaves formed their identity in an "us" versus "them" framework, this paper argues that resistance would have been only one of many responses to enslavement and evidence suggests that it was most likely not the dominant response in the slave community.

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Opposing Views in African-American Archaeology: Use of Resistance or Risk Management to Explain Cultural Material of the Enslaved. Alicia Odewale. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397522)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America