Friday, 6 September 2013

The first free African-American settlement and resistance against slavery

It was reported earlier this month that archaeologists from the University of Maryland and Morgan State University have uncovered evidence that suggests Treme, in New Orleans, is not the oldest free black community (it was established in 1812) in the US as first thought. Findings from the dig at The Hill in Easton, MD including bits of glass, shards of pottery and oyster shells indicate that the community was established in 1790 by former slaves who had bought their freedom.
The founding of such communities presents the often overlooked theory of a cultural resistance to slavery, something considered by Kalle Kananoja in his article 'Pai Caetano Angola, Afro-Brazilian Magico-Religious Practices, and Cultural Resistance in Minas Gerais in the Late Eighteenth Century' which is included in a special issue of Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage on Atlantic approaches on resistance against slavery in the Americas. In the issue's introduction, Ana Lucia Araujo explains that:
"The authors examine unexplored aspects of individual and collective actions led by enslaved men and women, by developing a broad definition of resistance that does not always encompass violence, but also includes cultural and religious forms of resistance. Using several kinds of primary sources and approaching resistance from an Atlantic perspective, the authors examine slave rebellions, runaway slave communities, slave and abolitionist networks, as well as African religious traditions...numerous studies addressed the issue of violent collective resistance against slavery, especially in the USA and the Caribbean. However, with some welcome exceptions, most recent scholarship that attempts to provide an international perspective to resistance and the fight against slavery also continues to privilege the English-speaking world and the North Atlantic region.
Moreover, by defining resistance as a synonym with rebellion and envisioning the Haitian Revolution as the only successful rebellion in the Americas, most book-length studies barely address the role of everyday forms of individual and collective resistance. As a result, despite their great value, these works fail to discuss cultural forms of resistance and address the role of women in slave resistance."

>> Read the full introduction for free

>> Read the full article for free

>> "Archaeology dig may uncover nation's earliest free African-American settlment"


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