Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Michael L Blakey
I use W.E.B. Du Bois' reference to the worlds 'within and without the veil' as the narrative setting for presenting the case of an African-Bahamian urban cemetery in use from the early eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. I argue that people of African descent lived what Du Bois termed a 'double consciousness.' Thus, the ways in which they shaped and changed this cemetery landscape reflect the complexities of their lives. Since the material expressions of this cemetery landscape represent the cultural perspectives of the affiliated communities so changes in its maintenance constitute archaeologically visible evidence of this process. Evidence in this study includes analysis of human remains; the cultural preference for cemetery space near water; certain trees planted as a living grave site memorial; butchered animal remains as evidence of food offerings; and placement of personal dishes on top of graves.;Based on the manufacture dates for ceramic and glass containers African-derived cultural behavior was no longer practiced after the mid-nineteenth century even though the cemetery remained in use until the early twentieth century. I interpret this change as evidence of a conscious cultural decision by an African-Bahamian population in Nassau to move away from obviously African-derived expressions of cultural identity. I argue that the desire for social mobility motivated this change. Full emancipation was granted in the British Empire by 1838. People of African descent who wanted to take advantage of social opportunities had to give up public expressions of African-derived cultural identity in order to participate more fully and successfully in the dominant society.
© The Author
Turner, Grace S., "An Allegory for Life: An 18th century African-influenced cemetery landscape, Nassau, Bahamas" (2013). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. William & Mary. Paper 1539623360.