Abundance/Absence: Reframing Agency in African Diaspora Archaeology

Author(s): Elizabeth Ibarrola

Year: 2021


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Black Studies and Archaeology" , at the 2021 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

In her 1997 book Scenes of Subjection, writer Saidiya Hartman examined the possibilities for resistance and transformation manifest in Black performance and everyday practice both pre and post-emancipation. Her examination is couched in a deep skepticism of the usefulness and relevance of agency in the study of slave power, questioning what shape agency might possibly take in a place where repression is limitless (1997:6,63). Hartman’s thesis and exploration present a critical frame for African Diaspora archaeology, which has often struggled with appropriately (and adequately) interpreting the actions, decisions, and practices of African descendent peoples, particularly within enslavement. In this paper, I focus in particular on the ways which Hartman’s approach to agency is instructive in the study of anti-slavery resistance at two Florida plantation sites.

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Abundance/Absence: Reframing Agency in African Diaspora Archaeology. Elizabeth Ibarrola. 2021 ( tDAR id: 459239)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology