Abolition Geography and the Archaeology of Urban American Slavery

Author(s): Christopher N. Matthews

Year: 2021


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Archaeology of Urban Dissonance: Violence, Friction, and Change" , at the 2021 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Recent calls for a revival of abolition (of the police, of racism, of capitalism, of America) intentionally connect contemporary movements to the legacy of abolitionism we often associate with the fight to end slavery and institute a new society defined by not only freedom but also an unbounded existence. Spatializing freedom in this way is the heart of abolition geography, which Ruth Wilson Gilmore poses as “the antagonistic contradiction of carceral geographies.” This paper examines the archaeology of slavery in American cities to reflect on how an approach to historical and material data constructed through the lens of abolition geography exposes details about the struggle among enslaved persons to deny their incarceration and achieve "freedom as a place" through solidarity and exception.

Cite this Record

Abolition Geography and the Archaeology of Urban American Slavery. Christopher N. Matthews. 2021 ( tDAR id: 459220)


Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology