chapter  13
14 Pages

: Liberation, and Emancipation: Constructing a Postcolonial

ByTheresa A. Singleton

The archaeological study of slavery and emancipation, and more generally of the African diaspora, can be considered a postcolonial area of study both chronologically and substantively. In chronological terms, it was initiated in the 1960s when most former colonies had become or were in the process of becoming independent. Substantively, it is a postcolonial pursuit because it was initiated in response to social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Paramount among these was the Civil Rights movement in the United States, which influenced, and was influenced by, worldwide independence movements.The Civil Rights movement was a liberation movement that developed in response to legalized discriminatory practices against African Americans and other people of color, subordinating them to second-class citizenry. Legalized racism of the pre-Civil Rights Act era was

very similar to colonial policies, such as apartheid in South Africa, which had been designed to maintain inequality between European colonizers and non-European colonized subjects. Given the temporal and sociopolitical context within which the archaeology of the African diaspora emerged, it is a postcolonial archaeology (although it has rarely been articulated as such) because it places the subaltern subject (the colonized, enslaved, and oppressed) front and center.