Courtney Michelle Besaw
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationPittsburgh, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10494
Approve DateApril 6, 2023
Project TitleBesaw, Courtney (Pittsburgh, U. of) "Marronage in the Western Caribbean: Material Culture and Change on the Island of Providencia"
European colonialism in the Caribbean created a maelstrom of demographic, social, and economic change, producing marronage: African Diasporic peoples escaping enslavement to live independently. Maroon archaeological sites are notoriously hard to discover: in the Caribbean, only a handful have seen systematic archaeological investigation. Working from historical sources, descendant voices, and my pilot archaeological work, two new Maroon sites have been identified on Providencia, a western Caribbean island. Several comparative aspects of Providencia’s history make investigation of Maroon occupation on the island important to broadening knowledge of Maroon histories and lifeways. Unlike the settings for other known Maroon communities, Providencia was a sparsely occupied island, lacking plantations, and devoid of colonial interest until the 19th century. Surface work and test excavations will be conducted at the sites of Maroon Hill and Shortcut. This project will generate data critical to a foundational understanding of Maroon material culture, chronology, and everyday practices on the island, while at the same time addressing several larger research questions concerning everyday materiality, domestic life, self-sufficiency, and external ties. This community-driven project will engage with a rich descendent population (Raizal) memory and contribute to the long history of Black resistance from enslavement to the Black Lives Matter movement.