Historical Archaeology

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 113–124 | Cite as

Muffled, but not Mute

  • Bradley D. Phillippi
Original Article


Narratives of Long Island’s past continue to efface the many Native American, African, and mixed-heritage workers from its plural past. Many of the homes and farms White families shared with their coerced, waged, and non-White workers remain rife with archaeological potential, yet archaeologists are reluctant to excavate them, presumably because of their ambiguity and lack of culturally distinct data. This article examines changing labor relations in order to repopulate these plural sites and give meaning to the many objects, practices, and spaces diverse people shared on a daily basis. An 18th- and 19th-century farmstead provides the context. Specifically, domestic architecture and activities are traced across the transition from slavery to wage labor to determine how new relations unfolded in daily practice. The results indicate that the system of wage labor preserved White authority over non-White workers and contributed to the masking of plural spaces as homogeneously White.


labor race space practice northeast North America 


Las narrativas de la historia de Long Island continúan borrando a los muchos trabajadores nativo americanos, africanos y de herencia mixta de su pasado plural. Muchos de los hogares y granjas que las familias blancas compartieron con sus trabajadores obligados, asalariados y no blancos siguen plagados de potencial arqueológico, sin embargo los arqueólogos son reacios a excavarlos, presumiblemente debido a su ambigüedad y falta de datos culturalmente diferentes. El presente artículo examina las cambiantes relaciones de trabajo con el fin de repoblar estos emplazamientos plurales y dar significado a los muchos objetos, prácticas y espacios que diferentes personas compartieron a diario. Una granja de los siglos XVIII y XIX proporciona el contexto. Específicamente, se rastrean arquitectura y actividades domésticas en la transición desde la esclavitud al trabajo asalariado para determinar cómo aparecieron poco a poco nuevas relaciones en la práctica diaria. Los resultados indican que el sistema de trabajo asalariado preservó la autoridad blanca sobre los trabajadores no blancos y contribuyó al enmascaramiento de los espacios plurales como homogéneamente blancos.


Les récits de l’histoire de Long Island continuent à effacer les nombreux travailleurs amérindiens, africains ou ayant des origines diversifiées de leur passé pluriel. La plupart des maisons et des fermes que les familles blanches ont partagées avec leurs travailleurs forcés, salariés et autres que blancs restent riches en potentiel archéologique, mais les archéologues hésitent à les fouiller, vraisemblablement en raison de leur ambiguïté et du manque de données distinctes sur le plan culturel. Cet article examine les relations de travail changeantes afin de repeupler ces sites pluriels et de donner un sens aux nombreux objets, aux pratiques et aux espaces que les divers peuples ont partagés au quotidien. Une ferme des 18e et 19e siècles fournit le contexte. Plus précisément, l’architecture domestique et les activités sont retracées pendant toute la transition de l’esclavage au travail salarié pour déterminer comment de nouvelles relations se sont développées dans la pratique quotidienne. Les résultats indiquent que le système de travail salarié a conservé l’autorité blanche sur les travailleurs non-blancs et a contribué au masquage des espaces pluriels comme étant blancs homogènes.


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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyHofstra UniversityHempsteadU.S.A.

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