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Archaeological Perspectives on the French in the New World$
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Elizabeth M. Scott

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054391

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054391.001.0001

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Landscapes of Forgetting and the Materiality of Enslavement

Landscapes of Forgetting and the Materiality of Enslavement

Using Class, Ethnicity, and Gender to Search for the Invisible on a Postcolonial French House Lot in the Illinois Country

(p.112) 5 Landscapes of Forgetting and the Materiality of Enslavement
Archaeological Perspectives on the French in the New World

Erin N. Whitson

University Press of Florida

Forgetfulness can be a violent act. In discussing Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, Walter Schroeder writes that “the French, Spanish, and Americans shied away from using the words esclave, esclavo, and slave except in official documents” (2002:12, n.11). Modern landscapes and historical narratives of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri similarly reflect a semi-purposeful “forgetfulness” on enslaved individuals within the region. This chapter provides a detailed case study of such an instance of “forgetfulness” on an ethnically French house lot in the Middle Mississippi River valley. A comparison between objects found to be associated with class, gender, and ethnicity from both the still-standing Janis house and a no-longer-standing outbuilding just behind the main house provided insight into both the decisions made by the French in the design of the property’s space and the materiality of Francophone slavery in the Illinois Country. This chapter ultimately addresses the materiality of enslavement within ethnically French communities in North America.

Keywords:   Class, Gender, Ethnicity, Landscape, Slavery, Illinois Country, Middle Mississippi River valley, Materiality, enslavement

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