Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of Virginia

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Virginia
Archaeology of Slavery, Indenture, and Identity on a Mauritian Sugar Plantation

This historical archaeological project compares enslaved and indentured laborer households on an 18th-19th-century sugar plantation on the island of Mauritius in the southwest Indian Ocean, at a time when the island transitioned from a regime based on slave labor to one based on indenture. As part of a larger collaborative archaeological project directed by Dr. K. Seetah (Stanford U.), I will investigate how the conditions of arrival—as captives or as migrants—and perceptions of one's future options to return home influenced the practices of identity. Building on preliminary research conducted in 2014, my methods involve archaeological survey, excavations, and documentary archival and oral historical research. The data and materials collected with these methods will be used to determine foodways, personal and religious practices, and domestic architecture and spatial arrangements. Synchronic and diachronic differentiation between households will indicate laborer's connections to trade networks and engagement with objects from various origins and will also help determine whether and how enslaved and indentured laborers' materials and spaces reflect different identity practices. Engaging with both well-established creolization models and recent transnational models, I hypothesize that while enslaved laborers practiced creolized identities, indentured laborers maintained strong ties to their homeland, a contrast that will be apparent in the archaeological record. As one of the first projects in the Indian Ocean world that compares slavery and indenture, and that tests the application of new theoretical models in archaeology, this project has local, regional, and global anthropological significance.