A yard to sweep : race, gender, and the enslaved landscape
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This dissertation uses primarily archaeological evidence to interpret how enslaved women and men shaped as well as adapted to their environment to meet their cultural and spiritual needs. The research site is Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Plantation, located on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. I have attempted to use an interdisciplinary approach to research by combining archaeological evidence, various forms of oral history (including interviews with descendant community members), literature, and historical accounts. This project provides an illustration of relationship between enslaved peoples and their landscapes. Long overlooked by scholars outside of archaeology, landscapes are a significant line of evidence that can be used to study the creation of culture during slavery as well as the persistence of social memory among the enslaved. The dissertation focuses on the gendered dimensions of the making of households and landscapes. In particular, I examine how black women, even under the horrific conditions of enslavement, shaped social spaces as they formed relationships within them. From this focus, I present a theory of “homespace” and illustrate how its discourses and practices persist today as this “space” is re-interpreted by the local descendant community and among the larger African American population.