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"They Had Perfect Knowledge of…This Offensive Place": Burial Grounds and Archaeological Human Remains in Richmond’s Public Discourse

Author(s): Ellen Chapman

Year: 2016

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Summary

In Richmond, Virginia, racial discrimination is clearly visible in the condition of historical burial grounds. Efforts to reclaim these sacred sites have generated controversy surrounding the proposed Revitalize RVA development adjacent to the city’s oldest cemetery for people of color. Recent outrage, activism, and attempts at dialogue have also occurred in relation to some archaeological collections of human remains from Richmond, while other such collections have received comparatively little attention. This paper will present ethnographic research into the value placed by city communities on archaeological human remains and burial places through three case studies: the activism that reclaimed Richmond’s Burial Ground for Enslaved Africans; The East Marshall Street Well Project, which seeks to redress the mishandling of dissected human remains recovered from a well containing medical waste; and the Virginia State Penitentiary site, where construction during the 1990s uncovered an unanticipated cemetery containing interments and comingled skeletal deposits.


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"They Had Perfect Knowledge of…This Offensive Place": Burial Grounds and Archaeological Human Remains in Richmond’s Public Discourse. Ellen Chapman. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434390)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 195

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