A knowable space and time : intervening in the hierarchies of history via chronotopic language
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Archaeology of the Black and African Diaspora contributes greatly to the heritigization of Black life in the Americas. Following this line of thought, I analyze the discursive constructions of historical Black social life in America using the written documents and exhibitions from a small post-emancipation archaeological project in Travis County, Texas. The Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead Archaeological Project was excavated by a cultural resource management firm in the effort to preserve an important piece of African American history from the late 19th century. Sites such as the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead are recent crystallizations of memory and history based in both pride and trauma in the American narrative. Sites and monuments such as these do the important work of highlighting an often-marginalized version of past American events—and as folklore and history are crucial parts of identity creation, its equally important to discuss how these representations of the past give expression to contemporary social experience. My report is an analysis of how the resulting data, exhibitions, television spots, and oral history report from the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead Archaeological Project fit into the discursive frameworks that shape space and belonging over time in the American narrative. I examine how contributions to the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead Archaeological Project is in conversation with various interpretations of the preservation of American history; and how the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead Archaeological Project is, at times, interpreted with the intent to contrast the dominant spatial and historical memory of American life after the Civil War, a memory which extends and shapes life beyond the era and area of the site. My analysis contributes to the bodies of work that addresses the hierarchical spatial and temporal organization of Western progress which continues to perpetuate a violent erasure and misshaping of marginalized communities.