Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Charles Faulkner

Committee Members

Faye V. Harrison, Susan R. Frankenberg, Cynthia G. Fleming


(From “Chapter 1: Introduction.” No abstract available.)

The archaeology of the African Diaspora holds promise for providing new information on a voiceless past. During the past 30 years, numerous African-American archaeological sites have yielded a wealth of information about lifeways among the enslaved. Studies have focused upon ethnicity, dominance/resistance, plantation social structure, and cultural identity (Singleton and Bograd 1995). Numerous requests from archaeologists for the implementation of innovative theoretical and methodological frameworks are promoting the cultivation of a dialogue between scholars and descendant African-American communities. Epperson (1998:116) argues that archaeologists of the Africa Diaspora should work to create “archaeologies that focus upon issues of cultural identity, preservation, and transformation.” Singleton (1999) contends that an informed African-American archaeology will center around several themes, including cultural identity. Many critical theorists argue that archaeology is relevant to descendant communities by focusing, among other things, upon the roots of African-American culture (Franklin 1997). A detailed study of African-American folk medicine1 from enslavement to freedom and into contemporary African-American culture is an avenue through which archaeologists may examine an aspect of traditional African-American cultural identity, preservation, and transformation.

1: The term folk or traditional medicine “refers to vernacular knowledge about the cause, prevention, and treatment of illness used by a particular social group” (Cavender 2003: 32). Because African Americans mainly employed plants for medicine, the terms folk medicine and herbal medicine will be used interchangebly throughout this dissertation.

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