Archaeology of Race


Archaeologists are constantly looking for materials and evidence of land use to illuminate past human activity. One aspect of archaeological research that has been gaining attention is the evidence of race. Some have assumed those who were enslaved or indentured had no presence in the archaeological record. In so assuming, those oppressed peoples were (and are) denied their agency and the gravity of their experiences glazed over. Studies of African Diaspora and ethnographic study have brought forward forgotten histories and experiences that have been neglected in American history. Today we talk with none other than Dr. Terrance Weik and get a better idea of agency, culture, behavior, and ability that is not generally attributed to enslaved or otherwise oppressed peoples.

Dr. Terrance Weik

Dr. Weik received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and his graduate degrees from the University of Florida (1995, 2002). Weik chose a career in archaeology in order to explore African diasporan cultural origins, freedom seeking initiatives, struggles with inequalities, and social identities. Outside of academia, Weik’s career has involved brief interludes in GIS applications, Cultural Resource Management, and private consultation (museums, nonprofits, and government agencies).
Dr. Weik is a historical archaeologist who takes an anthropological, diaspora approach to Africans in the Americas. His research methods employ multiple lines of evidence such as documents, oral history, geophysics, GIS data, and material culture. Weik’s earliest research involved Africans who escaped from slavery in Florida as well as Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Ethnogenesis and the linkages between indigenous people and Africans were particularly salient in his early works. His fieldwork in South Carolina explored plantation and urban slavery. As a consultant for the Audubon Society (Mississippi), Weik explored the transition from slavery to tenant farming, and helped restore a place for African American voices and heritage in the nature programs at Strawberry Plains plantation. While at Strawberry Plains, Dr. Weik discovered the potential for beginning a new phase of research on African and Native American interactions. His current project is examining indigenous Chickasaw slaveholding, community building, African agency, frontier entrepreneurship, and intercultural engagements. The latest dimension to this project involves the parallels between African diasporic displacement and “Indian Removal.” Weik is exploring this topic in an edited volume which he has been invited to assemble (University of Florida Press), tentatively entitled The Archaeology of Removal. This volume will explore how archaeologists working on various contexts—industrial complexes, colonial villages, rural towns, modern island fringes, reservations, impoverished homesteads, natural disaster sites, and prisoner camps—are uncovering the causes, consequences, and processes of forced human and material relocation.

Also take a look at Dr. Wiek’s Book!


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