African Diaspora archaeology and heritage in St Kitts and Nevis

Gonzalez Tennant in Nevis

A post by Peter Jordens.

Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 2014) of the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage contains two articles on the Caribbean:

Stone Artifacts and Glass Tools from Enslaved African Contexts on St. Kitts’ Southeast Peninsula

Todd M. Ahlman (Texas State University), Bobby R. Braly and Gerald F. Schroedl (University of Tennessee)

pp. 1-25

Abstract: St. Kitts, the first permanent English colony in the Caribbean, was dominated by sugar monoculture. During the island’s mid-eighteenth-century financial and political heights, the southeast peninsula was home to several sugar and cotton plantations. Recent excavations have recovered considerable data relating to the enslaved Africans who worked these plantations, including an assemblage of stone and glass tools. The stone tools, made from local chert, are dominated by cores, bifacial flakes, and utilized flakes, some of which are strike-a-lights or fire flints. The glass tools are primarily unifacial scrapers manufactured from bottle glass. Although enslaved African sites rarely contain more than a few of these artifacts, comparisons with sites in the USA and Caribbean suggest that chert and glass tool use among enslaved Africans was a widespread phenomenon rather than an isolated occurrence.

The “Color” of Heritage: Decolonizing Collaborative Archaeology in the Caribbean

Edward González-Tennant (Monmouth University)

pp. 26-50

Abstract: This article explores the intersection of postcolonial theory and archaeology as it relates to the process of collaboratively investigating Afro-Caribbean heritage. Decolonizing archaeology involves asking uncomfortable questions regarding fundamental aspects of archaeological practice. The author examines the possibility that historical archaeologists sometimes miss collaborative projects due to a site’s assumed racial classification. The grouping of sites around the perceived ancestry of its inhabitants may restrict the ability of archaeologists to craft collaborative projects with various publics in postcolonial locations like the Caribbean. Recent research on Nevis provides a case study demonstrating how groups develop deep affinities for locations and how these affinities may cut across lines of color. The author’s goal is not to critique other approaches, but to challenge his own practice of archaeology by reflexively constructing a cosmopolitan past, one which reflects increased agency for groups feeling connected to a site regardless of any externally-defined racial affiliation.

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Photo: Edward González-Tennant (kneeling) and his team at an archaeological site in Nevis

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