Degrees of Freedom: Emancipated and Self-Emancipated People in Indiana and Kenya in the 19th Century
Author(s): Lydia Wilson Marshall
This paper uses two geographically disparate case studies to explore the roles of freedom and coercion in the lives of emancipated and self-emancipated people. Comparative archaeologies of freedom have much to teach us about the robust and enduring legacies of slavery. In mid- to late 19th-century Kenya, runaways (in Swahili, watoro) established independent settlements in the hinterlands after escaping enslavement on the coast. In 1879, hundreds of so-called "Exodusters"— African-American migrants from the South, most formerly enslaved—settled in Putnam County, Indiana. This paper uses archaeological, oral historical, and documentary data in a comparative framework to explore how the lives of both watoro and Exodusters continued to be shaped by their former enslavement. These data show that freedom was achieved by degree and that archaeologists of the African Diaspora would do well to approach emancipation as a diachronic process rather than a legal event.
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Degrees of Freedom: Emancipated and Self-Emancipated People in Indiana and Kenya in the 19th Century. Lydia Wilson Marshall. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433898)
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