Hidden in Plain View: African American Archaeology at Manassas National Battlefield Park
Martin Seibert, Erika Kristine
Shackel, Paul A.
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This dissertation examines how the categories of race, class, and/or gender intersected and informed life in an historic, rural, Southern community. Examining African American landscapes of consumption and production in historic, rural Virginia through the archaeological record is essential for understanding the development of African American cultural reproduction through time. Archaeological landscapes that include very early sites for this region and are comprised of material culture from pre-emancipation deposits can provide a framework for understanding how ethnogenesis worked as a method for the community to survive the harsh realities of slavery, redefine themselves as raced, classed, and gendered individuals with relation to their economy on their own terms, and build a foundation on which they could continually resist and transform the categories created for them during later periods in history. Sites that date to the mid nineteenth century and later provide information about the shift in these methods from ethnogenesis to racial uplift. Racial uplift during these later periods became the method which the African American families in this area used to connect themselves with citizenship and the American dream through their consumer and producer behavior. This behavior can then serve to illuminate how relationships of inequality became naturalized and institutionalized and how, through these methods, inequality was continually challenged and transformed. Examining historic and modern twentieth century African American landscapes through archaeological sites can also illuminate the response of the community to a period of intense commemoration by the Confederacy immediately following the Civil War and illuminate the lasting effects of the Lost Cause ideology on modern day race relations. Defining and understanding archaeology through this period not only acknowledges how and why African American history has been left out of modern interpretations, but helps outline new interpretive plans that both challenge visitors to our national parks and attempt a more democratic voice for the National Park Service and for our nation.