Charlotte Morris Williams

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10165

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Williams, Charlotte (Pennsylvania, U. of) "The Fruits of Our Labor: Corporations, Canals, and Archaeology in the Making of American Sovereignty. "

In the early 20th century, American imperial endeavors from the United Fruit Company to the Panama Canal broke ground in Central and South America. As earth was upended, so too were geopolitical lines in both present and past. As laborers cleared earth for plantations and railroads, they also exposed archaeological material enveloped in either sovereign American zones or in private company lands. Within American capitalist enterprise, artifacts and sites became tools through which corporations could extend territorial claims. Because American ventures owned the tools, transportation, and infrastructure proximal to archaeological sites, industrialists and government officials created a powerful paradox in which archaeological sites could be saved from the very threat of industrialization’s own making. My project asks: How did American imperial corporations and archaeological projects justify each other’s emergence? Through analyzing archaeological and industrial archives, the material culture of excavations, and observation of current excavations around the former Canal Zone, my project investigates the palimpsest and legacies of governance, infrastructure, and imperial ventures that controlled the present by claiming stewardship over the past.