Excavating America: Historical Archaeology of the Modern World

Excavating America:
Historical Archaeology of the Modern World
ANTH 225 / ARCP 225 / AMST 285
Tuesday/Thursday 2:40 – 4:00pm, PAC 107
Fall 2012
Professor Sarah Croucher
Email: [email protected]
Office hours: Wednesday 2:00 – 4:00pm, or email for appointment time
Office: Anthropology Department (281 High Street), Room 26
Course Description
This course covers the archaeology of approximately the last 500 years in the Americas,
by its nature covering sites for which at least some historical documentation exists. In
this course, we will focus on understanding how material remains can be used as a rich
source of history in and of themselves and how archaeological data works in
conjunction with historical sources to produce rich interdisciplinary narrative of the
The period covered by historical archaeology in the Americas has been a time of
upheaval, most notably from settler colonialism, the forced diaspora of enslaved
Africans to work on plantations, and from the move into industrialization that changed
conditions of life and labor for many. We will address all of these changes, paying
particular attention to how archaeology informs our understanding of resistance and
hybridity in colonial contexts, the contribution of archaeology to understanding
processes of racialization, and the commitment of historical archaeologists to furthering
social justice in the present through their work on the past.
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Sites and topics studied will include those relating to Spanish settlement in California
and the Caribbean; Native sites that intersected with periods of settler colonialism;
British plantations in the Chesapeake; domestic sites of enslaved Africans and free black
communities; early merchant and industrializing cities, including New York City and
Lowell, Mass.; the archaeology of trash and sewerage; forensic archaeology and the
African Burial Ground in NYC; sites of institutional confinement; and the heritage value
of modern ruins.
A half day-trip to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and hands-on lab session in the
Cross Street Archaeology Lab will provide an introduction to the practice of
All readings are available on Moodle: there are no assigned books for this class.
Please check Moodle regularly for readings; if there is a change in relation to the
syllabus, the Moodle version will be the correct version.
» Four pop quizzes (worth 10% of final grade)
» Short fieldtrip assignment or 3 page paper, due Monday October 1 (worth 10% of
» Class presentation, Thursday October 11 (10 -15 minutes, in small groups) and
short paper, due Friday October 12 (worth 10% of grade)
» One 3 page short paper, due Sunday November 18 (worth 20% of grade)
» Lab project, due Monday December 3 (worth 20% of grade)
» Final paper, due Friday December 14 (worth 30% of final grade)
Assessment is based on several small assignments with a mixture of papers,
presentations, and lab/fieldtrip based work. This is intended to provide regular
assessment which draws on reading and on active participation with material culture.
Pop quizzes will be unannounced. The questions will be straightforward if you have
done the readings and paid attention to class material. They will be multiple choice or
short (phrase or single sentence) answer format. Class attendance will be taken; along
with active participation this will be taken into account for borderline grades.
I am sympathetic towards those who may require extensions on written work.
However, all extensions must be authorized and arrangements should be agreed well in
advance of the deadline.
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Missing in-class assessed work (presentations and pop quizzes) will require an email
(prior to the class) from your dean to let me know that you cannot attend because of
illness or for other reasons. I will expect some form of equivalent written work to make
up any missed in-class assessment.
Please read Moodle for my full policy on laptop computers. I encourage their use as
an aid for class work. However, I request that they are not used in the back three rows
of the classroom, and that you do not use your computer for email, Facebook, or similar
applications during class. I find that following these guidelines helps those who use
laptops in class to stay more focused.
Disability Policy
It is the policy of Wesleyan University to provide reasonable accommodations to
students with documented disabilities. Students, however, are responsible for
registering with Disabilities Services, in addition to making requests known to me in a
timely manner. If you require accommodations in this class, please make an
appointment with me as us soon as possible (by preference during the first two weeks
of the semester), so that appropriate arrangements can be made. The procedures for
registering with Disabilities Services can be found at
Fieldtrip to Mashantucket Pequot Museum:
This will be held on Friday September 28. We will depart Wesleyan at noon and return
at approximately 5.45pm. Advance sign up and payment for the trip is required by
Tuesday September 18. Please talk to me if you have issues with covering the costs, or
missing other classes.
We will be visiting the labs in the museum and the main exhibit of Pequot life. Dr Kevin
McBride, director of archaeological research at the museum, will be talking to us about
the latest findings of their ongoing archaeology of the seventeenth-century Pequot War.
Weather permitting, we will also have a short visit to the archaeological field research
currently in-progress. Further details can be found here:
Please make sure that you wear shoes that you can walk outside in, bring a waterproof
jacket, and any food or refreshments that you will require.
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Class Schedule and Readings
Tuesday September 4
Introduction, no assigned reading
Spanish Colonialism
Thursday September 6
Deagan, K. 1996. Colonial Transformation: Euro-American Cultural Genesis in the Early
Spanish American Colonies. Journal of Anthropological Research 52(2): 135-160.
Tuesday September 11
Cordell, L.S. and McBrinn, M.E. 2012. Archaeology of the Southwest (3rd Edition).
Chapter10, ‘Transitions, Resistance, Accommodations, and Lessons, 1500-1900 CE
[Concentrate on pp. 284 through pp. 297]
Thursday September 13
Rodríguez-Alegría, E. 2005. Eating Like an Indian: Negotiating Social Relations in the
Spanish Colonies. Current Anthropology 46(4): 551-573.
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Colonial California
Tuesday September 18
Lightfoot, K. G. 2005. Indians, Missionaries, and Merchants: The Legacy of Colonial
Encounters on the California Frontiers. Chapter 3, ‘Franciscan Missions in Alta California’
& Chapter 4, ‘Native Agency in Franciscan Missions.’ [Skim chapter 3 for background;
focus on chapter 4]
Thursday September 20
Lightfoot, K.G. Martinez, A., and Schiff, A.M. 1998. Daily Practice and Material Culture
in Pluralistic Social Settings: An Archaeological Study of Culture Change and
Persistence from Fort Ross, California. American Antiquity 63(2): 199-222.
Native New England
Tuesday September 25
Pezzarossi, G., Kennedy, R., and Law, H. 2012. ‘“Hoe Cake and Pickerel”: Cooking
Traditions, Community, and Agency at a Nineteenth Century Nipmuc Farmstead.’ In
Graff, S. R. and Rodríguez-Alegría, E. (Eds.), The Menial Art of Cooking: Archaeological
Studies of Cooking and Food Preparation.
Thursday September 27
Silliman, S.W. 2009. Change and Continuity, Practice and Memory: Native American
Persistence in Colonial New England. American Antiquity 74(2):211-230.
McBride,K. Monhantic Fort & Fort Island reports.
Friday September 28 – noon to 5.30pm fieldtrip to Mashantucket Pequot Museum
Meet 11.50am outside Usdan on Wyllys Ave.
**Fieldtrip Assignment due Monday October 1, 5pm**
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Tuesday October 2
King, J. A. 2006. Household Archaeology, Identities and Biographies. In D. Hicks and
M.C. Beaudry (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Historical Archaeology.
Orser, C.E. Jr. 2004. Historical Archaeology 2nd Ed. ‘Space’ pp.134-147
Thursday October 4
Upton, D. 1984. White and Black Landscapes in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. Places
2(2): 59-72.
Tuesday October 9
Epperson, T.W. 1999. Constructing Difference: The Social and Spatial Order of the
Chesapeake Plantation, in T. Singleton (Ed.), “I, Too, Am America”: Archaeological Studies
of African-American Life.
Heath, B.J. & A. Bennett. 2000. “The Little Spots Allow’d Them”: The Archaeological
Study of African-American Yards. Historical Archaeology 34(2): 38 – 55.
Thursday October 11
Class presentations (See Moodle for specific readings)
**Short paper due Friday October 12, 5pm**
Tuesday October 16
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Class and Industrialization
Thursday October 18
Shackel, P.A. 1993. Personal Discipline and Material Culture: An Archaeology of Annapolis,
Maryland, 1695-1870. Chapter 1 (‘Individual Time: Archaeology of the House Lot) &
Chapter 5 (The Historical Meanings of Consumption) [focus on broader points; don’t
worry about the intricacies of data]
Tuesday October 23
Mrozowski, S.A. 2000. The Growth of Managerial Capitalism and the Subtleties of Class
Analysis in Historical Archaeology. In Delle et al. (Eds.), Lines That Divide: Historical
Archaeologies of Race, Class, and Gender.
Shackel, P.A. 2009. The Archaeology of American Working-Class Life. Chapter3 (Worker’s
Housing in the Late Nineteenth Century)
Thursday October 25
Van Bueren, T.M. 2002. The Changing Face of Work in the West: Some Introductory
Comments. Historical Archaeology 36(3): 1-7.
Saitta, D.J. 2007. The Archaeology of Collective Action. Chapter 6 (The Archaeology of
Collective Action in the Colorado Coalfield)
The Archaeology of Institutions
Tuesday October 30
Baugher, S. 2001. Visible Charity: The Archaeology, Material Culture, and Landscape
Design of New York City’s Municipal Almshouse Complex, 1736-1797.
Thursday November 1
Casella, E.C. 2007. The Archaeology of Institutional Confinement. Chapter 4 (An
Archaeology of Institutional Confinement)
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Intersections: Ethnicity, Gender, Race, and Class in Urban America
Tuesday November 6
Yamin, R. 2001. Alternative Narratives: Respectability at New York’s Five Points. In
Mayne, A. and T. Murray (Eds.), The Archaeology of Urban Landscapes: Excavations in
Cantwell, A. and D. d. Wall, 2001. Unearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City.
Chapter 12 (Daily Life in the Nineteenth-Century City)
Thursday November 8
Wall, D. 2000. Family Meals and Evening Parties: Constructing Domesticity in
Nineteenth-Century Middle-Class New York. In Delle et al. (Eds.), Lines That Divide:
Historical Archaeologies of Race, Class, and Gender.
Tuesday November 13
Williams, B. 2008. Chinese Masculinities and Material Culture. Historical Archaeology
42(3): 53-67.
Praetzellis, A. and M. Praetzellis. 1998. A Connecticut Merchant in Chinadom: A Play in
One Act. Historical Archaeology 32(1): 86-93.
Thursday November 15
NO CLASS: American Anthropological Association meeting
**Short paper due Sunday November 18, 5pm**
Tuesday November 20
Mullins, P.R. 1999. Race and the Genteel Consumer: Class and African-American
Consumption, 1850-1930. Historical Archaeology 33(1): 22-38.
Thursday November 22
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Archaeology of free African Americans; New Philadelphia & Middletown
Tuesday November 27
Shackel, P.A. 2010. Remembering New Philadelphia. Historical Archaeology 44(1): 7-19.
Orser, C.E. Jr. 2004. Historical Archaeology 2nd Ed. ‘Classifying and Grouping Historical
Artifacts,’ pp. 212-216.
Thursday November 29
Lab Sessions, split into two sessions (sign up before class)
1:00 – 2.40pm
2:40 – 4pm
Recommended (see Moodle for further useful readings and links):
Brighton, S.A. 2001. Prices that Suit the Times: Shopping for Ceramics at the Five Points.
Historical Archaeology 35(3): 16-30.
Bonasera, M.C. and Raymer, L. 2001. Good for What Ails You: Medicinal Use at Five
Points. Historical Archaeology 35(3): 49-64.
**Lab Assignment, due Monday December 3, 5pm**
The African Burial Ground, NYC
Tuesday December 4
Mack, M.E. and Blakey, M.L. The New York African Burial Ground Project: Past Biases,
Current Dilemmas, and Future Research Opportunities. Historical Archaeology 38(1): 1017.
LaRoche, C.J. and Blakey, M.L. 1997. Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the
New York African Burial Ground. Historical Archaeology 31(3): 84-106.
Lab project and paper, due Monday December 3
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Contemporary Archaeology
Thursday December 6
Rathje, W. 2001. Integrated Archaeology: A Garbage Paradigm. In, Buchli, V. and Lucas,
G. (Eds.), Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past.
Reno, J. 2009. Your Trash is Someone’s Treasure: The Politics of Value at a Michigan
Landfill. Journal of Material Culture 14(1): 29-46.
**Final Paper Due: Friday December 14 5pm**
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