Black Feminist Archaeology

Article excerpt

Black Feminist Archaeology. WHITNEY BATTLEBAFTISTE. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California, 2011. 199 pp. ill. $94.00 (hardback), ISBN: 978-1-59874378-4; $32.95 (paper), ISBN: 978-1-59874-379-1; $32.95 (eBook), ISBN: 978-1-61132-447-1.

Whitney Battle-Baptiste, in Black Feminist Archaeology, examines the development of her own identity, framework, and development as an archaeologist. She writes to open a dialogue about stories of different women and ways to discuss the past with the intersecting of race, class, and gender. Battle-Baptiste claims that she has an agenda in writing this book, and by discussing her framework and sites she has worked on, she opens a new dialogue to discuss the black feminist framework. She describes her work as an archaeologist, how she came to be an archaeologist, and her background and personal experiences, including the aspects of her life that created in her an interest in studying the African experience and the role of women. Battle-Baptiste argues that, in general, the lives, stories, and accomplishments of African women in the United States have been either left out of or not properly recognized in other accounts. Throughout her book, she hopes to give power back to those women by recounting their stories and their work through archaeology and black feminism.

Battle-Baptiste first explains how she constructs a black feminist framework. This first chapter is helpful in setting the tone for the book and for understanding Battle-Baptiste's framework. She wrote this book in hopes of reaching a new audience and in order to tell people about feminism and archaeology - and how these issues can intersect.

Battle-Baptiste goes on to present her work at the Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson in Tennessee. More specifically, she examines the First Hermitage site, which had had some previous excavations done between 1975 and 1980. Her goal was to explore these structures again and to provide new interpretations for the site. The First Hermitage site also included structures that housed slaves on the property and other residential areas. In 1996 Battle-Baptiste began to work on the site and investigated the kitchen quarter, the Jackson Farmhouse, and the surrounding yard, areas and structures that gave rise to interpretations about how people on the property lived and used the land, and what items they were using. …