A Desolate Place for a Defiant People: The Archaeology of
Maroons, Indigenous Americans, and Enslaved Laborers in the Great Dismal Swamp by Daniel O. Sayers
“Shows how colonialism and slavery created sustained
critiques of American capitalism and created the conditions for chronic
resistance. These communities represent a largely unrecognized, alternative
declaration of independence. They are a part of world history that is truly
revolutionary.”—Mark P. Leone, author of The Archaeology of Liberty in
an American Capital
“Addresses key historical and theoretical debates of the
archaeology of the African diaspora. Theoretically complex and methodologically
rigorous, it is the first serious study to locate maroon groups in the
Chesapeake.”—Frederick H. Smith, author of The Archaeology of Alcohol and
“Sayers uses archaeology to tell a compelling story of how
alienated people found refuge in the alien landscape of the Great Dismal Swamp.
Here they created their own way of life, free of the exploitation and
alienation that they escaped. His work helps us to better understand the
history of defiance in the Antebellum South and raises important theoretical
issues for all archaeologists studying diasporic communities.”—Randall H.
McGuire, author of Archaeology as Political Action
In the 250 years before the Civil War, the Great Dismal Swamp
of Virginia and North Carolina was a brutal landscape—2,000 square miles of
undeveloped and unforgiving wetlands, peat bogs, impenetrable foliage, and
dangerous creatures. It was also a protective refuge for marginalized
individuals, including Native Americans, African-American maroons, free African
Americans, and outcast Europeans.
In the first thorough archaeological examination of this
unique region, Daniel Sayers exposes and unravels the complex social and
economic systems developed by these defiant communities that thrived on the
periphery. He develops an analytical framework based on the complex interplay
between alienation, diasporic exile, uneven geographical development, and modes
of production to argue that colonialism and slavery inevitably created
sustained critiques of American capitalism.