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Unformatted text preview: Early African America: Archaeological Studies of Significance and Diversity Christopher C. Fennell Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010 Abstract This article examines archaeological studies of the cultural heritage and social dynamics of African descendant populations in the United States and Canada from AD 1400 through 1865. European colonial enterprises expanded in Africa and the Americas during that time span, effecting an accompanying movement of free and captive Africans into North America. Archaeological investigations of early African America are remarkable for the diversity of analytic scales and research questions pursued. This diversity of research efforts has yielded a highly productive, interdisciplinary expansion of knowledge concerning African diaspora histories. Keywords African-American archaeology Slavery Resistance Cultural heritage Introduction Archaeological research of African descendant populations in North America has expanded dramatically in scope and diversity over the past several decades. In addition to exchanging information, theories, and data through published venues, researchers working on African-American archaeology and the African diaspora have collaborated through resources such as the African Diaspora Archaeology Network (ADAN). The field promises even greater future advances in compiled data, detailed contextual interpretations, and comparative analyses. We can anticipate an increasing emphasis on comparative and synthetic studies based on an expanding field of research in the areas within North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and the regions of Africa impacted by the trans-Atlantic C. C. Fennell ( & ) Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 109 Davenport Hall, MC-148, 607 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 123 J Archaeol Res DOI 10.1007/s10814-010-9042-x slave trade. A growing focus on maritime archaeology of slave vessels may yield greater insights into the horrific operations of the Middle Passage. In addition, rapid developments in bioarchaeological methods for analyzing traces of isotopes and DNA elements promise to provide data on potential links between populations across time and space. In January 2007, I organized a forum of the ADAN at the Society for Historical Archaeologys annual conference, entitled Research Designs for Atlantic Africa and African Diaspora Archaeologies. Discussion focused on theoretical constructs and interpretative frameworks employed in African diaspora archaeology projects and comparative studies in the historical archaeology of sites in Africa. The resulting assessments provided ample evidence that archaeological studies of the African descendant populations in North America pursue diverse research questions at multiple scales of analysis (Ogundiran 2008 ). Researchers have conducted studies spanning spatial scales from the global to the hemispheric, interregional, regional, and...
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