Situating identity: An archaeology and representation of race and community in Annapolis, Maryland
Larsen, Eric L
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This dissertation presents an examination of the role of space in the processes of racialization that occurred in the small, southern city of Annapolis, Maryland, from 1870 to 1930. The work is primarily a landscape study focused on the history and development of a single urban block--the Courthouse Block--that was once part of Annapolis' African-American community. Racialization refers to the social constructions and impositions of inequalities based on outward characteristics. Such processes are highly mutable and historically contingent, and often become part of the regular toolkit of everyday identities. The period of Jim Crow segregation that followed the end of Reconstruction in America, is often characterized in spatial terms. Even the defining phrase, "Separate but equal," from the landmark Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, holds this connection. The linkage of space and race continues today, as archaeologists seek to "locate" African-American sites with which to examine material representations of race. However, the relationship between space and constructions of race have yet received consistent attention by historical archaeologists. To embrace the complexity, this study presents itself in three parts. These "performances" are first, an archaeology that seeks to assess the changing urban environment over a 300-year period; second, a history relying heavily upon map and census data with additional sources to fill out the context of the lives of African Americans during the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries; and third, a social geographical study with an emphasis on the visual landscape. Social boundaries become apparent as does the relationship between race and space. Identities are marked by individuals positions relative to these boundaries--identities that are self defined and those based on ascription. All American space during this period was clearly racialized--particularly public spaces where most identifying interchanges occurred. In this light, African-American archaeology is no longer limited to African-American occupied sites. It becomes increasingly necessary to also take up the examination of "whiteness." Once space, within its particular context, is understood to be racialized, archaeologists can better examine the processes of identity within it.