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British Association for American Studies


Issue 8, Spring 2006: Article 6


Issue 8, Spring 2006: Article 6

U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal

Issue 8, Spring 2006

Unearthing Resistance: African American Cultural Artefacts in the Antebellum Period

Camilla Cox
© Camilla Cox. All Rights Reserved

In accordance with postcolonial critic and art historian Tim Barringer’s assertion that it is only ‘when the status of “art” is conferred on a body of work can it begin to generate a history’, the recent re-signification of African-American cultural artefacts from the antebellum period as such has demanded a critical revision of the tenacious belief that African and African-American slaves did not have, and could not create, a vigorous and expressive material culture. [1] Whilst the recovery of the African-American slave narrative has been central to the critical reconsideration of both African-American and American literary heritage, the cultural production of enslaved blacks has been conspicuously absent from discussions of African-American artistic endeavour and its significance as a site of identity affirmation and re-configuration. Indeed, the tendency to conceive of African-American cultural production prior to its so-called ‘revival’ during the Harlem Renaissance of the early twentieth century as either non-existent or derivational, and thus ‘inauthentic’, has both denied and obscured the conscious effort and ability of African-American slaves to forge a viable and practicable sense of self through the manipulation of, and artistic investment in, the three-dimensional objects in which black cultural production is found. Indeed, the recent archaeological excavation of plantations throughout the tidewater region of the American South has uncovered both utilitarian and decorative slave-made artefacts that suggest an artistic attempt to create a realm of autonomy from within the boundaries of their colonisation and enslavement. It is my hope that this essay will offer a glimpse into the ways in which these cultural remains of America’s past signify ‘layers of meaning beyond the objects’ specific iconographies’, thus pointing towards a reconsideration of African-American material production and the cultural resistance and self-expression that it can be seen to represent. [2]

Indeed, in recognising and giving voice to these ‘hidden histories’ embedded in the artistic endeavours of slaves, such as objects made for both utilitarian (baskets, pottery, quilts) and decorative (dress, ornamentation, sculpture) purpose, the questions of continuity and hybridity, mimicry and authenticity, and ambivalence and resistance that are inextricable from both the objects themselves and their surrounding critical discourse become particularly poignant. Indeed, the recently convergent critical triptych of American Studies, African-American Studies and Postcolonial Studies manifested in the writings of such critics as Paul Gilroy, Homi Bhabha, and Stuart Hall, amongst others, has offered a critical framework through which to explore the debates of otherness and creolisation that I believe to be central to any understanding of the complexities at work within the object crafted by the hands of the enslaved. Thus, whilst the majority of studies that have taken the cultural production of slaves as a topic of inquiry have sought either to locate an African tradition, ‘Présence Africaine’, or to dispute its presence entirely, such an approach is both simplistic and misleading. [3] In grounding my essay within the critical paradigms promulgated by such cultural and US ‘ethnic’ studies critics and that demonstrate a postcolonial, ‘transatlantic’ and ‘identity conscious’ politics, any hermetically enclosed conception of either American Studies or the people for which it hopes to speak is denied. As such, it is from within this space of ambivalence and intersection that the cultural significance of slave artefacts can be engaged whilst problematising any oversimplification of the complexities inherent within the articulation of African-American identity and the critical sphere in which it is discussed.

A more meaningful starting point from which to consider the significance of an African presence within slave culture than those discussions that have focused primarily on whether such a presence exists and if it does, to what extent it can be deemed ‘authentic’, is anthropologist Frederik Barth’s contention that the construction of ethnic identity is the process of ‘organising cultural differences so as to create the criteria for which to include or exclude members’. [4] Whilst critic E. Franklin Frazier and his seminal text The Negro Family in the United States posited that the exportation and enslavement of over 11.5 million people from the African continent to the New World from 1619 to 1808 eradicated all cultural remains of the slaves’ African past, [5] the continuities and invocations of Africa found in slave-made artefacts remain testament to the fact that whilst Africans may have come to the United States ‘empty-handed’, they did not come ‘empty-headed’. [6] Indeed, whilst it is true that throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries there was no ‘African-American’ culture of which to speak but rather a heterogeneous mix of American-born blacks and various African peoples, such as the Igbo, Yoruba, Ibibo, Mende, Kpelle and Kru to mention a mere few, the very existence of a distinct African aesthetic within the cultural products and practices of slave ‘society’ implies an active attempt by this mix of American- and African-born blacks to forge both an individualised and group identity out of diverse and often incongruent elements. [7] Thus, in examining the manifestly un-Euro-American aesthetics at work in archeologically recovered cultural remnants of slave life, the processes of what anthropologist Henry John Drewal has termed ‘re-membering’, the act of ‘restructuring society and the past’ into something tangible and usable, are revealed. [8]

Indeed, the (re)location of an African aesthetic within such artefacts as slave-made pottery uncovered at former plantation sites prompts an engagement with such questions of how, and to what effect, enslaved blacks used or constructed this African ‘remembrance’ to inform an autonomous ‘ethnic’ self. Taking anthropologist George De Vos’s definition of ethnic identity as ‘a feeling that is maintained as an essential part of one’s self-definition’ that incorporates an individual’s ‘past experiences and origin to define how one characterises and expresses his or her self’ whilst using that knowledge to negotiate everyday reality, [9] it is evident that the construction of a viable identity for blacks in America relied, at least in part, on ‘staying cognitively apart’ from it. [10]

The invocation of a deliberately un-Euro American aesthetic, strikingly evident in the ‘face vessels’ excavated in South Carolina, reflects this need to assert a self premised on what Stuart Hall has characterised as both a continuity of the self and a difference from the other. [11] In accordance with Barth’s aforementioned contention that ethnic identity must, by its very existence, be premised on exclusion, the animated human-face earthernwares produced by the slaves in the Edgefield District of western South Carolina mediate this boundary ‘between interior and exterior, between self and other’ upon which a sense of personal coherence and belonging can be seen to hinge. [12] The well-documented use of two different clays in the production process, the facial physiognomy and the contrasting white of the eyes and teeth against a darker coloured form all point towards a continuance and evocation of the pottery forms of the northern Kongo region of Africa, where a proportion of South Carolinian slaves are known to have descended (see Fig.1 [13] However, the significance here is not so much in the continuance and transference of African cultural forms from one region to another, but rather in their invocation of the displaced ‘Other’ in what Walter Benjamin has characterised as a ‘moment of danger’. [14]

Indeed, whether or not Afro-Carolinian face vessels were intended to invoke the aesthetically similar Kongo ‘power’ statuary, they are significant for their (a)historical reference to a moment outside of the boundaries of interpretation open to the coloniser. As Walter Benjamin elucidates, ‘To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognise it “the way it really was”. It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger’. [15] Indeed, as momentous cultural and geographical displacement demanded a ‘new’ Africa in the New World, the ‘old’ Africa was, in the very process of being re-membered, a rhetorical space. ‘This is Africa’, asserts Hall, ‘necessarily “deferred”- as a spiritual, cultural and political metaphor’. [16] In this sense, to Africa’s diaspora, Africa has always signified something other than itself; rather than denoting a space of cultural veracity and African-American historicity ‘lost’ to slavery, Africa is seen as another component of the diasporic, already-creolised identities that have informed African-American existence. The metaphorical potency of the ‘homeland’ beyond the border of the colonised lies in its potential as an imagined space and usable past to, contends Edward Said, allow the ‘mind to intensify its own sense of self by dramatising the difference between what is close to it and what is far away’. [17]

The possible symbolic meanings and functions that have been attributed to the Afro-Carolinian face vessels underline this conviction in the dramatisation of cultural difference and continuity as a means of enabling slaves to transgress the boundaries of colonialist discourse. In accordance with the subversive imbedding of ‘African’ (non-white) referents or messages within the public realm of the plantation – in folktales, spirituals, or even in the acts of feigning stupidity, laziness or in the sabotage of machinery, crops and animals – it is evident that the cultural or ‘folk’ productions of slaves contained a subtext of resistance whilst simultaneously allowing concealment of this resistance because of the colonisers’ innocuous understandings of the slaves’ conduct. [18] Indeed, the excavation of the Afro-Carolinian face vessels from areas of the Underground Railroad and their small size suggest a spiritual and symbolic, as opposed to a utilitarian, significance. [19] The occurrences of holes in the pots reinforce art historian John Michael Vlach’s contention that the face vessels were used to ward away evil spirits from grave sites, thus pointing towards an ‘unofficial culture’ that underpinned and infused vitality into the attempt of African-Americans to stake out a coherent and practicable cultural space. [20]

Reinforcing this notion of an ‘unofficial culture’ as a means of subversive resistance and survival strategy is social scientist James C. Scott’s contention that in circumstances where the ‘luxury of negative reciprocity’ is denied, such as in slavery and other forms of political and social subordination, there inevitably exists a ‘hidden transcript’, a ‘critique of power spoken behind the back of the dominant’. [21] The ‘African’ presence and non-Euro-American usage of slave-crafted objects such as the face vessel signify beyond their immediate context in the public sphere to a private, hidden ‘social space’ where, asserts Scott, ‘dissent to the official transcript of power relations may be voiced’. [22] Indeed, the recovery from the site of a blacksmith shop and slave quarters in Alexandria, Virginia of a late-eighteenth-century wrought-iron figure stylistically echoing the ritual figurative iron statuettes amongst the Mande peoples in Mali, similarly suggests a hidden expression of ethnic identity and resistance buried deep beneath the earthen floor from which it was excavated (see Fig. 2 http:// [23]

Subsequently, it is evident that in evoking an imaginative and spiritual world alien to the one that they were forced to inhabit, slaves invested within their work the strongest powers available to them for manipulating circumstances in their lives. [24] In similarity to the face vessels’ speculated significance as symbols of good fortune that aided healing and warded off bad spirits, the wrought-iron statuette’s literal unearthing suggests a spiritual subtext that reinforces the notion of oppositional cultural strategies deployed by enslaved blacks to negotiate their subjugation and to create a sense of self. Indeed, the recent research undertaken by archaeologist Patricia M. Samford into the excavation of West African-style ancestor shrines and subfloor pits in African-American slave quarters suggests that objects found within the floor of slave buildings may have a greater spiritual and ritual significance than has previously been thought. [25] In examining archaeological, documentary and ethnographic evidence from both Virginia and the West African societies whose descendents comprised a considerable proportion of the Virginia slave population, Samford contends that a proportion of subfloor pits, a type of archaeological feature common on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Virginia slave sites, functioned as ancestor shrines that originated in West Africa. Thus, it is from within these ritualised spaces, and through the objects found within them, that African-Americans were able to express symbolically the continuity of past and present. As cultural anthropologist Anthony Cohen asserts, it is this symbolic evocation of the historical self that both generates and (re)affirms the ‘cultural integrity of the community’. [26]

Interestingly, in imbuing the cultural object with meaning and significance beyond the bounds of colonial discourse, as seen above, the boundaries that delineated slave existence, such as white/black, master/slave, subject/object, were able to be redrawn symbolically. Indeed, as we have already seen, it is on the boundary between self and other in which such cultural forms and ritualised spaces were brought into existence; thus it is this boundary, and the symbolic evocation of it, through which slaves were able to meaningfully construct a community from within the confines of their bondage. Indeed, in accordance with Cohen’s assertion that ‘community… is meaningfully constructed by people through their symbolic prowess and resources’, the symbolic evocation of the boundary, the mechanism that mediates the ways in which a community is or wishes to be distinguished, is most clearly evinced by an examination of slave dress. [27]

The recent use of documentary and archaeological evidence to determine the dress and adornment choices available to and made by enslaved blacks offers an important insight into the interactions of personal identity and social display manifested within the cultural productions of African and African-American slaves. Indeed, if the ‘consciousness of community’ is ‘encapsulated in [its] perception of its boundaries’, as Cohen contends, then the overwhelming evidence that slaves bought, crafted and acquired objects relating to personal adornment and appearance implies such a process of boundary-maintenance through the creation and preservation of a common body of symbols. [28] Indeed, the fact that slaves paid attention to their dress, creating unique and non-European styles of adornment, can be witnessed both in the numerous runaway slave advertisements that document slave attire and in the studies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century consumption that suggest items relating to adornment, such as ribbons, beads and fabric, were the most commonly purchased commodities amongst free and enslaved blacks. [29] In light of such information, it is evident that codes of adornment were clearly being established, symbolically constructing and reinforcing the foundations of a burgeoning African-American community.

The excavation between 1993 and 1996 of the slave quarters at Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s Bedford County tobacco and wheat plantation, recovered over 100 items relating to personal adornment; in examining these archaeologically recovered objects within the context of runaway-slave advertisements, it is possible to deduce the ways in which dress was used symbolically to signify a collective, ethnic identity. From the slave quarters alone, archaeologists at the Poplar Forest site recovered 122 buttons, 2 shoe buckles, 3 small knee buckles, a buckle used to fasten underclothing or ribbons, 35 glass beads and a fragment of a gilt chain possibly from a necklace. [30] Interestingly, many of the objects were recovered from ‘the fill of a small storage pit or root cellar beneath the floor’, a detail that in light of the possible ritual significance of such pits discussed above, further points towards the attempt of African and African-American slaves to construct a symbolic community that provided a sense of coherence, meaning and identity to its members. [31]

Anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s assertion that ‘man is an animal suspended in the webs of significance he himself has spun’ is in accordance with the ‘webs of significance’ clearly imbedded within slave artefacts; the embellishments made to the standard issue of slave attire either by the objects described above or by the addition of pattern and colour to white ‘Negro cloth’ is testament to the creation and recreation of African-American cultural identity. [32] Indeed, the use of colour to signify beyond the non-identities endowed upon slaves is evinced throughout the runaway slave record. For example, in 1783 it is recorded that a slave known as Anthony ran away from a Virginian plantation wearing ‘his usual outside clothing … of Virginia cloth … sometimes dyed with walnut, maple and other barks’, whilst in 1770 a slave named Jamey was reported to have been wearing a ‘white Negro cloth jacket and breeches, with some blue between every seam, and particularly on the fore part of the jacket, a slip of blue in the shape of a serpent’ when he ran away from a plantation in South Carolina. [33]

The use of colour and symbol here is particularly poignant; as Jamey wove colour into the white folds of the ‘Negro cloth’ he was symbolising his disaffiliation with the dominant society and his lack of place within it. The evocation of a serpent underlines this symbolic renegotiation of boundary, recalling Cohen’s conception of the symbol as something for people to ‘“think with”’. [34] Indeed, marking the boundary between self and other, such symbols of communality provide a ‘means to make meaning’ and therefore to ‘express the particular meanings which the community has for them’. [35] Thus, the use of contrasting colours, materials and patterns which had, by the nineteenth century, become a recognisable element of slave dress, reinforces the sense that such symbolic evocations of difference allowed a reinvestment in the self through their signification of something other and beyond the discourse of their oppressors. Indeed, the use of contrasting and vivid colour and symbolic representation of form that can be seen to characterise African-American art even today shares this sense of always signifying to something beyond and other than the context in which it is made, used and displayed. Thus, from such covert and ‘hidden’ beginnings, the ‘politics of black style’ is, as critics Shane and Graham White contend, the ‘politics of metaphor, always ambiguous’, and always political, ‘because it is always indirect’. [36]

Indeed, Homi K. Bhabha’s conception of the diasporic imagination as one consistently caught between the existential quandary of being ‘neither the one nor the other’ encapsulates this ambiguity and ‘doubleness’ of self that can be seen to characterise African-American artistic expression. [37] As African and African-American slaves took the cultural fabric of their oppressors and made it something other, they were able to forge a viable ethnic identity from within this ambiguous, hybridised space. Indeed, in acknowledging African-American cultural identity as one that is inevitably ‘transatlantic’ and already-creolised, the cultural productions of African-American slaves must inevitably express the ‘multiple viewpoint’ of the Diaspora. [38] In accordance with W. E. B. Dubois’s contention that the African-American forever ‘feels his twoness, – an American, a Negro; … two warring ideals in one dark body’, the notion of a ‘pure’ or ‘authentic’ dialogue with either (white) America or (imagined) Africa is untenable. [39] As such, the signification of ‘otherness’ in the cultural production of slaves does not so much signify a dialogue with the past but rather attempts to re-figure cultural memory in a contingent ‘“in-between” space that innovates and interrupts the performance of present’. [40]

It is this ‘politics of interruption’ that encapsulates the modes of resistance and the construction of a valid ethnic space effected within the cultural productions of slaves. Whilst the signification of ‘otherness’ either through the invocation of an ‘African’ aesthetic or a specifically non-Euro-American semiotics was prevalent in the cultural production of African-American slaves, the productions of slave artisans that were confined to a Euro-American aesthetic cannot be deemed either ‘inauthentic’ or non-representative of African-American expression. To do so, argues Gilroy, denies the inevitably syncretic and hybrid nature of African-American identity and privileges an absolutist conception of ethnicity and culture that ‘registers uncomprehending disappointment with the actual cultural choices and patterns’ of black people. [41] Such debates of authenticity continue to pervade African-American social and critical dialogue; however, in understanding that we are, as political philosopher Anthony Appiah asserts, ‘all contaminated by each other’, the question of authenticity must inevitably become displaced. [42]

The recent archaeological and critical unearthing of the works of a nineteenth-century slave artisan known as ‘Dave’ is illustrative of the cultural texts of slaves that do not necessarily invoke an ‘African’ sensibility or cultural past yet evince the same hybridity and ‘politics of interruption’ employed by those that do. As a slave working in the Edgefield district of west-central South Carolina, Dave took the unusual step of not only signing and dating his pottery, but also inscribing short poetic verses into his pieces before firing (see Fig 3. Whilst critics have been keen to tie the shape and form of his pots to his African roots, critic Aaron De Groft has conceded that Dave worked ‘largely in the Anglo-Carolinian tradition’[43] and that it ‘is only the [unusually large] scale of certain pieces and their poetic inscriptions that markedly distinguishes his work from that of other local potters’. [44] However, Dave’s position as a slave is of critical significance; his subversion of social norms through the embellishments of size and inscription suggest an equally potent ‘hidden transcript’ of self-authentication and expression underpinning his work.

Indeed, whilst De Groft has initiated the important process of critically examining the narrative content of Dave’s poetic inscription and its subversive significance, it his use of the poetic that I would like to briefly focus on here. Whilst De Groft’s analysis of the ‘veiled symbolism and hidden meanings’ that he locates within Dave’s rhyming couplets aims to counter their dismissal as mere ‘whimsical’ and ‘meaningless’ idiosyncrasies, it is significant that in the context of their production Dave could not have allowed them to be interpreted otherwise. [45] As such, the meaning or narrative content of the couplets becomes auxiliary to their form; in accordance with critical theorist Mikhail Bakhtin’s contention that prose is dialogic and didactic whilst poetry is monologic and primarily aesthetic, [46] it is evident that Dave used the poetic not as allegorical rhetoric, but rather as a means in which to ‘foreground the act of expression, the act of speech itself’. [47]

Certainly, whilst Dave’s inscriptions, such as ‘Surely this jar will hold 20/ fill it with silver then you will have plenty’ (April 8, 1858) or ‘I made this jar for cash/ Though its called lucre trash’ (Aug 27, 1857), can be interpreted as comments on the cash value of his labour, the historical and social weight of his rhetoric, the signified of his signifiers, does not appear to be his primary concern. [48] Rather, there seems to be a conscious reflection on the structure or form of his writing where the ‘effect… is to draw the attention of the reader not to an external reference, but [rather] to the very means of reference’ itself. [49] In this sense, Dave’s use of the poetic form can be seen as staking out a legitimate cultural space from which to articulate and inscribe a valid and practicable sense of self. As Dave negotiated and exercised his individuality from within the bounds of its prohibition, turning the structural forms of the dominant to his own use, he enacted Gilroy’s notion of the ‘diasporic intimacy’ that has been a ‘marked [and critical] feature of transnational black Atlantic creativity’. [50]

Subsequently, in locating the self within the symbiotic and ambiguous terrain of the Diaspora, African-American slaves were able to effect a symbolic (re)construction of their fractured, colonised lives. In investing their art with something other to enact the ‘politics of interruption’ witnessed above, enslaved blacks seeded the beginnings of an African-American ethnic identity characterised by its ability to invent, maintain and renew its boundaries, enacting what Gilroy has termed ‘the living memory of the changing same’. [51] Indeed, in conceiving of African-American ‘tradition’ not as a linear narrative from past to present, but rather as an unfinished ‘story of hybridity and intermixture’, [52] linguist Olabiyi Yai’s observation of the West African people, the Yoruba’s, notion of tradition becomes particularly poignant: “Tradition” in Yoruba is asa. Innovation is implied in the Yoruba idea of tradition. The verb sa, from which the noun asa is derived means to select, to choose, to discriminate or discern… [The] ability to reconcile opacity and difference and openness in an unending movement of metonymic engagements might explain the success and popularity of Yoruba culture in the New World… [53] Thus, in the process of discerning, choosing, selecting, appropriating and re-membering, African-Americans not only re-drew the parameters of their own existence and identity, but simultaneously re-drew those of the dominant culture that they were forced to serve.

The marginal(ised) creative endeavours of slaves remain testament to the hybrid and ambiguous nature of America’s cultural and political landscape; the centrality of white supremacy to the American experience indelibly blurs and renders redundant the borders that separate the ‘black’ experience from the ‘white’. As such, the ‘politics of interruption’ and syncretic innovation that can be seen to mark African-American art resonate beyond the borders of black particularity. In focusing on the ‘flows, exchanges and in-between elements’ that characterise both African-American and American culture, the concept of American Studies as a hermetically enclosed, unchanging same is untenable.[54] It is only in the engagement with such fields of inquiry that seek to infringe upon American Studies’ critical turf, and an interrogation of the borders that keep them apart, that will de-centre and displace American Studies from what critic George Lipsitz has termed its ‘possessive investment in whiteness’. [55] Thus, the ‘politics of interruption’ evidenced by early African-American art that both enabled an African-American identity whilst displacing America’s cognitive detachment from it, offers a critical paradigm through which to approach American Studies. It is only in the conscious and consistent ‘interruption’ and critical interrogation of American Studies that new points of recognition and spaces from which to speak can be constructed; thus it is in this act of ‘turn[ing] up new soil on old ground’ that American Studies will continue to provide an intellectual home for all those for whom ‘America’ must speak. [56]

University of Nottingham


[1] Tim Barringer and Tom Flynn, ‘Introduction’, in Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum, ed. by Tim Barringer and Tom Flynn (New York: Routledge, 1998), pp.1-10 (p. 4).

[2] Barringer and Flynn, p. 3.

[3] See Melville J Herskovits, The Myth of the Negro Past (Boston: Beacon, 1958) and Edward Franklin Frazier, The Negro Family in the United States, The African American Intellectual Heritage Series (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2001).

[4] Cited in Garrett Fesler, ‘The Exploration of Ethnicity and the Historical Archaeological Record’, in Historical Archaeology, Identity Formation and the Interpretation of Ethnicity, ed. by Maria Franklin and Garrett Fesler (Richmond, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Research Publications, 1999), pp. 1-10 (p. 4).

[5] Frazier, pp. 7-8.

[6] Henry John Drewal, ‘Memory and Agency: Bantu and Yoruba Arts in Brazilian Culture’, in Diaspora and Visual Culture: Representing Africans and Jews, ed. by Nicholas Mirzoeff (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 241-53 (p. 241).

[7] Donald R. Wright, African Americans in the Colonial Era: From African Origins through the American Revolution (Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1990), p. 11.

[8] Drewal, p. 241.

[9] Cited in Patricia M. Samford, ‘“Strong is the bond of Kinship”: West-African Style Ancestor Shrines and Subfloor Pits on African-American Slave Quarters’, in Historical Archaeology, Identity Formation and the Interpretation of Ethnicity, ed. by Maria Franklin and Garrett Fesler (Richmond, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Research Publications, 1999) < mation.pdf> [02 June 2005] pp. 71-92. (pp. 71, 72).

[10] Nigel Rapport, ‘Coming Home to a Dream: A Study of the Immigrant Discourse of “Anglo-Saxons” in Israel’, in Migrants of Identity: Perceptions of Home in a World of Movement, ed. by Nigel Rapport and Andrew Dawson (Oxford: Berg, 1998), pp. 61-84 (p. 80).

[11] Stuart Hall, ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’, in Identity: Community,Culture, Difference, ed. by Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990), pp. 222-237 (p. 225).

[12] Jonathan Rutherford, ‘A Place Called Home: Identity and the Cultural Politics of Difference’, in Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. by Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990), pp. 9-27 (p. 24).

[13] Sharon F. Patton, African-American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 66.

[14] Cited in Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 187.

[15] Cited in Gilroy, p. 187.

[16] Hall, p. 231.

[17] Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), p. 55.

[18] James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1990), p. xiii.

[19] Theodore C. Landsmark, ‘Comments on African American Contributions to American Material Life’, Winterthur Portfolio, 33.4 (Winter 1998), 261-282 (p. 279).

[20] John Michael Vlach, By the Work of their Hands: Studies in Afro-American Folklife (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991), pp. 43-4.

[21] Scott, p. xii.

[22] Scott, p. xi.

[23] Patton, p. 38.

[24] Samford, pp. 71, 72.

[25] Samford, p. 72.

[26] Anthony P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community (Chichester: Routledge, 1985), p. 103.

[27] Cohen, p. 38.

[28] Cohen, p.13.

[29] A. S. Martin, ‘Buying into the World of Goods: Eighteenth Century Consumerism and the Retail Trade from London to the Virginia Frontier’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, 1993), pp. 302-09 cited in Barbara J. Heath, ‘Buttons, Beads and Buckles: Contextualising Adornment Within the Bounds of Slavery’, in Historical Archaeology, Identity Formation and the Interpretation of Ethnicity, ed. by Maria Franklin and Garrett Fesler (Richmond, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Research Publications, 1999), pp. 47-70 (p. 50).

[30] Heath, p. 51.

[31] Heath, p. 57.

[32] Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), p. 5.

[33] Heath, p. 54.

[34] Cohen, p. 19.

[35] Cohen, p. 19.

[36] Shane White and Graham White, Stylin’: African American Expressive Culture from its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998). Quote from publisher’s blurb, < UserReference AA5660A1EF8905E142E2529B> [01 June 2005]

[37] Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), p. 25.

[38] Nicholas Mirzoeff, ‘The Multiple Viewpoint: Diasporic Visual Cultures’, in Diaspora and Visual Culture: Representing Africans and Jews, ed. by Nicholas Mirzoeff (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 1-18 (p. 6).

[39] W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk in Three Negro Classics (New York: Avon Books, 1965), pp. 207-390 (p. 187).

[40] Mirzoeff, p. 7.

[41] Gilroy, p. 32.

[42] Anthony Appiah, In My Father’s House cited in Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature, ed. by Amritjit Singh and Peter Schmidt (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2000), p. 23.

[43] Aaron De Groft, ‘Eloquent Vessels/Poetics of Power: The Heroic Stoneware of “Dave the Potter”’, Winterthur Portfolio, 33.4 (1998), 249-60. p.253.

[44] John A. Burrison in De Groft, p. 253.

[45] De Groft, p. 256.

[46] See M. M. Bakhtin, ‘Discourse in the Novel’, in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. by Michael Holquist, trans. by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Univerisity of Texas Press Slavic Series, 1 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1981), pp. 259-422.

[47] Gordon Graham, Philosophy of the Arts: An Introduction to Aesthetics, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 193.

[48] De Groft, p. 258.

[49] Graham, p. 192.

[50] Gilroy, p. 16.

[51] Gilroy, p. 198.

[52] Gilroy, p. 223.

[53] Cited in Margaret Thompson Drewal, ‘Nomadic Cultural Production in the African Diaspora’, in Mirzoeff, pp. 115-142 (p. 115).

[54] Gilroy, p. 190.

[55] George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), p. 3.

[56] Mae G. Henderson, ‘“Where, by the way, is this train going?”: A Case for Black (Cultural) Studies’, in Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity and Literature, ed. by Amritjit Singh and Peter Schmidt (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2000), pp. 95-102 (p.101).

“Unearthing Resistance: African American Cultural Artefacts in the Antebellum Period” was the 2005 winner of the BAAS Ambassador’s Postgraduate Essay Prize.