Constructing place, building commuity : the archaeology and geography of African American freedmen's communities in central Texas
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This dissertation focuses on how African Americans residing in southern freedmen’s communities engaged with their institutional spaces, specifically educational and religious centers, between the years of 1870 and 1940. Using Antioch Colony, a freedmen’s community established in Hays County, Texas, as a case study I argue that Black Americans constructed their social institutions to enculturate members of the community into ideologies of self-help and reciprocal obligation. These ideologies were collectively believed to provide the best avenue for achieving equal rights, dismantling structural inequality, and combating anti-Black racism. Through a multidisciplinary study integrating methods of archaeological excavation, artifact analysis, archival information, and geographic information systems, I demonstrate how Black Americans used material culture and the built environment, as facilitated through their social institutions, to enact and reproduce such behaviors. In this manner, I engage with geographic theories of place to position social institutions as spaces produced to resist the dehumanization and subjugation of Black citizens in the postemancipation United States.