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Inside the Pot House: Diaspora, Identity and Locale in Barbadian Ceramics

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Publication details

JournalJournal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage
DatePublished - 2013
Issue number2
Volume2
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)115-130
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The debate about the role of ceramics in the creation of identities amongst enslaved Africans forcibly transported to the Americas has been central to the archaeology of the African diaspora for over forty years. Early studies sought to identify distinct production techniques and vessel forms amongst the low-fired earthenwares that were made on, and traded between, the new plantations and relate them back to African archetypes. The theoretical shift occasioned by post-processual or critical archaeologies has refocused attention on how artefacts and spaces were used by enslaved workers to forge identities through the social and labour relationships that surrounded them. This article will investigate the production of earthenware on Barbados during the eighteenth century, where production techniques and vessel forms failed to conform to early archaeological models of Africanisms and cultural markers, and will use documentary evidence to explore the locales within which pottery was produced on a group of related plantations. Drawing on work by Silliman, it will argue that the combination of ethnic and demographic factors within one particular pot house sheds light on how African identities were negotiated and communicated within and between enslaved communities during the working tasks of the plantation.

    Research areas

  • diaspora, earthenware, Barbados, identity, potters

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