Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Brad Weiss


This study is a community-level analysis of an African American plantation neighborhood grounded in archaeological excavations at the Quarterpath Site (44WB0124), an antebellum quartering complex and post-Emancipation tenant residence occupied circa 1840s-1905 in lower James City County, Virginia. It asserts that the Quarterpath domestic quarter was a gathering place, a locus of social interaction in a vibrant and long established Chesapeake plantation neighborhood complex.;By the antebellum period, as marriage "abroad," or off-plantation, became the most common form of long term social union within plantation communities, enslaved social and kin ties in the Chesapeake region were typically geographically dispersed, enjoining multiple domestic areas across dynamic rural plantation neighborhoods. Such neighborhoods came to comprise 1) Sets of interrelated places common across virtually all large Chesapeake plantations, and 2) Sets of social relationships that transcended plantation borders, becoming invested and embedded in local places over time.;This work examines the ways in which structures of community became embedded in a variety of familiar places across the Quarterpath neighborhood as enslaved persons appropriated plantation landscapes through habitual practices and meaningful bodily orientations. It expands the frame of reference beyond the core domestic homesites to embrace the other grounds and places where residents spent much of their time, places in which relationships were built with neighbors performing common tasks on familiar grounds. It offers new insights to archaeological analyses concerning African American domestic sites throughout the African Atlantic diaspora, envisioning home grounds as dynamic social configurations embedded within mosaics of local places that came to embody community, family, and roots. It is an archaeology of a community in transition but it is also an archaeology of landscapes. It adopts a methodologically innovative approach intended to address often overlooked interpretive contexts and horizons of meaning, exploring mechanisms of community development and associated processes of place-making in a pre- and post-Emancipation African American community.



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