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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 138–152 | Cite as

Frontier Intermediaries: Army Laundresses at Fort Davis, Texas

  • Katrina C. L. EichnerEmail author
Article
  • 15 Downloads

Abstract

As contested spaces, frontiers are the ideal location in which to study identity, as inhabitants of these landscapes constantly experience and actively negotiate among the multiple lived realities that are shaped by conflicting ideologies. I propose the use of third-space and borderlands theory as frameworks for understanding the fluidity of experiences in the American frontier during the 19th century. Through a look at a community of laundresses in Fort Davis, Texas, I show how life on the edge—or perhaps in the middle—of geographic and social frontiers allowed inhabitants of these contested spaces to construct and redefine new personhoods. Moreover, I assert that women’s participation in food provisioning and preparation allowed them to act as cultural brokers across various scales of community interaction.

Keywords

Indian Wars army laundresses Black diaspora 

Extracto

Como espacios disputados, las fronteras son los lugares ideales para el estudio de la identidad, ya que los habitantes de estos paisajes constantemente experimentan y negocian activamente entre las múltiples realidades que se viven y que son moldeadas por ideologías en conflicto. Propongo la utilización de la teoría del tercer espacio y zonas fronterizas como marcos para la comprensión de la fluidez de las experiencias en la frontera estadounidense durante el siglo XIX. A través de una mirada a una comunidad de lavanderas en Fort Davis, Texas, muestro cómo la vida en los límites—o tal vez en medio de las fronteras geográficas y sociales—permitía que los habitantes de estos espacios disputados construyesen y redefiniesen nuevas individualidades. Por otra parte, puedo afirmar que la participación de la mujer en la provisión y preparación de alimentos les permitió actuar como intermediarios culturales a través de las diversas escalas de la interacción en la comunidad.

Résumé

En tant qu’espaces contestés, les fronts pionniers sont des endroits parfaits où étudier l’identité. Les habitants de ces paysages sont ainsi constamment soumis à des réalités multiples façonnées par des idéologies conflictuelles, et ils doivent activement les gérer. Je propose d’utiliser une théorie d’espace tiers et de zone frontalière comme cadre de travail permettant de comprendre la fluidité des expériences des fronts pionniers américains du 19e siècle. En observant les activités d’une communauté de blanchisseuses de Fort Davis au Texas, je démontre comment la vie à la limite, ou peut-être au centre, de ces frontières géographiques et sociales a permis aux habitants de ces espaces contestés de construire de nouvelles personnalités et de les redéfinir. Qui plus est, je suggère que la participation des femmes à l’approvisionnement des aliments et à leur préparation leur a permis de jouer le rôle de courtier culturel à plusieurs niveaux de l’intégration communautaire.

Notes

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of IdahoMoscowU.S.A.

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