Hidden in Plain View: African American Archaeology at Manassas National Battlefield Park

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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.