chapter  28
12 Pages

: Race and Class

ByPaul R. Mullins

Racial ideology and class inequality have profoundly shaped the last half millennium, but archaeologists have been oddly reticent about the material impression of the color line and its entanglement with class structure. An archaeology that examines race across time and space can underscore the complexity of the color line and illuminate the genesis of contemporary privileges. Politically, though, some archaeologists have been hesitant to wrestle with race and racism or to link color and class inequalities to contemporary systems of privilege. Instead, they have considered race as a social construction without critically examining the concrete realities of racial identities, the distinctive epistemic privileges of differing positions along the color line, and the ways in which an archaeology of race is compelled to scrutinize the impression of class on race. Archaeology risks ignoring perhaps the most fundamental structural

features of the colonial and postcolonial world if it evades questions about race and racism, casts class in reductionist terms disconnected from race, or poses these considerations as somehow methodologically or politically outside the appropriate sphere of archaeological scholarship. This paper focuses on how a broad range of archaeologists might profit from examining how American historical archaeologists have linked race and class in some forms but disregarded them in other ways that tend to squander many of the most interesting implications of an archaeology of race and class.