Excavating the Motor City: Structural Racism and the "Archaeological Record" in Detroit

Author(s): Robert Chidester

Year: 2018


In 2012 the Detroit Housing Commission received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to demolish the long-neglected public housing development known as the Douglass Homes, a collection of townhouses and mid- and high-rise apartment buildings in mid-town Detroit. The Douglass Homes had been built on top of an earlier residential neighborhood on the edge of Paradise Valley, a once-flourishing center of African American commerce and social life in the city. Pursuant to environmental compliance regulations, archaeological investigations were conducted during the demolition of the Douglass Homes in 2013-2014. These investigations uncovered several intact remnants of Paradise Valley and demonstrated that, contrary to the arguments of some archaeologists, 20th-century archaeological sites in Detroit do have the ability to yield important data. This presentation will consider the impacts of structural racism on both the archaeological record of Detroit and archaeologists’ understanding of African-American heritage in the Motor City.

Cite this Record

Excavating the Motor City: Structural Racism and the "Archaeological Record" in Detroit. Robert Chidester. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441661)

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Temporal Keywords
20th Century

Spatial Coverage

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

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 160