African Diaspora Archaeology in Latin America

Advances and Future Debates

Authored by: Daniela C. Balanzátegui Moreno

Routledge Handbook of Afro-Latin American Studies

Print publication date:  November  2022
Online publication date:  November  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367691431
eBook ISBN: 9781003159247
Adobe ISBN:


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Archaeological approaches to the history of the African diaspora in Latin America started in the 1930s, although the priority of archaeology has focused on the study of pre-contact societies. Archaeology in Central America and the Andean region emphasizes the history of pre-Hispanic civilizations, such as Incas, Mayas and Aztecs and historical archaeology of the African diaspora during the colonial and republican times has received less or no attention. However, a vast amount of archaeological research has been carried out in the Caribbean region and Brazil, mostly dedicated to the exploration of the enslaved populations in the context of plantations and maroon settlements during the colonial period (16th‒18th centuries). The development of archaeological research on enslaved, freed, and post-emancipated populations has involved a wide variety of methodological approaches, including the analysis of archaeologically recovered material and biological remains and the study of settlement patterns in plantations, urban settings, and maroon sites. The contributions made to the study of Afro Latin American populations generate unique inputs from the examination of their material remains and heritage, within a critical discussion about the lifeways of the enslaved and maroon populations; production, consumption and active participation of the colonial economies; the strategies of resistance to the imposition of slavery and the colonial legacies of racism; and the debate on the essentialist definition of enslaved people as passive subjects. Recently, archaeology of the African diaspora is fostering an anti-racist discipline with a collaborative and community-based ethical approach to the history of the Afro Latin American past. This chapter takes up the main themes addressed in the archaeology of the African diaspora and the challenges of a sub-discipline oriented towards its responsibility for the Afro Latin Americans based on generating processes of historical reparation.

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