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The Archaeology of Race in the Northeast$
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Christopher N. Matthews and Allison Manfra McGovern

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060576

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060576.001.0001

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Construction of Identity in an African American Activist Community in Albany, New York

Construction of Identity in an African American Activist Community in Albany, New York

The Trajectories of Racialization and Community Formation

(p.150) 8 Construction of Identity in an African American Activist Community in Albany, New York
The Archaeology of Race in the Northeast

Corey D. McQuinn

University Press of Florida

In Northeastern cities like Albany, New York, the legacy of enslavement contributed to an ongoing discourse over racial identity and political and economic opportunities. The Underground Railroad, a heritage theme for historic preservation groups, is here considered to be a step in this long process of racialization and less as an isolated thematic phenomenon with a beginning and an end. By placing the Underground Railroad within the longer scale of racial and political discourse in Albany and the nation, the effects of racialization can be observed in the formation of community and construction of racial, individual, and group identity. An African American enclave on Livingston Avenue in Albany demonstrates how material culture was used by people as agents to convey messages about solidarity, class, and racial identity. The material culture represents the manifestation of the discourse over race and politics between several different groups and demonstrates how community and identity were often contradictory and nuanced.

Keywords:   New York State, African American, activism, community, identity, race, Underground Railroad, resistance

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