A few weeks ago, I co-chaired a session at the Society for Historical Archaeology 45th annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology. The session covered the research currently being conducted at Historic St. Mary’s City, spanning four centuries, three countries, and various topics. Mine was, unsurprisingly, a look at the 19th century and the transition from slavery to freedom for the black laborers who worked on the plantation. From what I could gather, the session and paper were well received. The highlight was definitely listening to Garry Wheeler Stone, the first director of Historic St. Mary’s City and an archaeological legend, discuss our papers. It was an honor to hear him talk.
In particular, my post looks at emancipation as a process that occurs over time, not as a “shotgun moment of liberation”. This approach allows me to consider enslaved laborer’s actions of resistance to be emancipatory, and connect them to similar actions through the Civil War and into the post-slavery era. In particular, I use the negotiations of space and place on and outside of the plantation to examine how life changes for the laborers.
If you’re interested, and have 17 minutes to spare, you can watch and listen to my presentation below: