Located between southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina there is a swamp, The Great Dismal Swamp. This swath of land has a provocative social and economic history and Dr. Dan Sayers has spearheaded the ongoing research that takes place there. Dr. Sayers has conducted landscape studies exploring the history of communities that existed in the swamp interior. These people, also known as maroons, formed resistant and generally self-reliant communities in the swamp interior (primarily Indigenous Americans and African-Americans who permanently removed themselves from conditions of enslavement). A surfeit of information is buried in the Swamp’s interior. Today we invite this Swamp veteran to discuss what the landscape surveys have revealed about these maroon societies and the impacts of historical processes of colonialism, race-based enslavement , and profitable development of natural resources of the swamp.
Trained in philosophy, anthropology, history, and archaeology, Dr. Dan Sayers is a Historical Archaeologist who works in the United States. Currently, his Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study is exploring the social and economic history of communities that existed in the swamp interior from 1607 up through the Civil War. The project includes several scholars from around the U.S. as well as several AU graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Sayers is also working to develop an archaeological project centered on transient laborers and hobos in 1920-1950 America. Additionally, Dr. Sayers is developing a novel animal emancipation agenda for historical archaeology, he is elaborating original marronage theories and perspectives, he is engaged in the politics of the “Underground Railroad”, and, he continues his work the 19th century transition to agrarian capitalism in the Midwest and beyond.