“A unique collection that does a wonderful job of presenting diverse human experiences of removals while demonstrating the multidisciplinary strengths of historical archaeology.”—Allison Manfra McGovern, coeditor of The Archaeology of Race in the Northeast
“Provides a number of case studies that show how the concept of ‘removal’ is widely applicable across many time periods and many cultural groups, including contemporary societies.”—Mark R. Schurr, University of Notre Dame
Exploring a wide range of settings and circumstances in which individuals or groups of people have been forced to move from one geographical location to another, the case studies in The Archaeology of Removal in North America demonstrate what archaeology can reveal about the agents, causes, processes, and effects of human removal.
Contributors focus on material culture and the built environment at colonial villages, frontier farms, industrial complexes, natural disaster areas, and other sites of removal dating from the colonization of North America to the present. They address topics including class, race, memory, identity, and violence. One essay investigates the link between mapmaking and the relocation of Mississippi Chickasaw people to Oklahoma. Another essay uses archival research to problematize the establishment of the National Park Service and the displacement of Appalachian mountain communities; it shows how uprooted people challenged stereotypes and popular narratives circulated by mass media. Additionally, excavations of a World War II–era Japanese American internment camp illustrate how the incarcerated marshaled new social networks to maintain their cultural identities. Research on other carceral sites exposes the ways banishment from society obscures the pervasive violence exerted on prison populations. A concluding chapter grapples with unexpected consequences of removal, as archaeologists paradoxically benefit from the existence of sites previously ignored by the historical record.
The archaeologists in this volume broaden our understanding of displacement by identifying parallels with removal experiences occurring today. As they shed light on ongoing global problems of removal, these case studies point to ways descendants, victims, and indigenous people have sought and continue to seek social justice.
Terrance Weik, associate professor of anthropology at the University of South Carolina, is the author of The Archaeology of Antislavery Resistance.