Seeing the Materiality of Race, Class, and Gender in Orange County, Virginia

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This dissertation explores some of the ways the African American community in Western Orange County, Virginia adapted to life after emancipation. The interpretation relies upon intersectional materialism, which is rooted in the intellectual legacy of Black Left Feminists. Intersectional materialism rejects the dualities and dichotomies common in dialectical thinking and embraces a polylectical framework that has emerged following the influences of postmodern theorists in the mid to late 20th-century. Polylectical analysis requires the inclusion of a wide array of voices from people positioned across a complex matrix of domination to better understand the structure of that matrix and the possible futures that could be produced from it. This has enabled an understanding of African American material culture that links directly to the ideas of generations of Black intellectuals. This has resulted in an emphasis on the material culture of domestic architecture and literacy. It becomes possible to more accurately interpret material culture that may not have been directly addressed by people in the past after a more complete interpretation of the structure of social forces is accomplished. This includes the analysis and interpretation of the dynamic relationship between African American domestic sites and the visualscape.