Elizabeth Anne McCague

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Maryland, College Park, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10617

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

McCague, Elizabeth (Maryland, College Park, U. of) "Equestrian Labor, Entangled Lives: A Longitudinal Study of Racial Capitalism in the Mid-Atlantic Horse Industry"

This project examines the structures of the racialized hierarchies within the Mid-Atlantic horse industry from the 18th century to present day. My research joins the theoretical framework of racial capitalism with archaeological material culture analysis and semi-structured interviews to trace how the inequality and exploitation of enslaved Black horsemen’s historical labor and expertise directly translates into the present day expertise of Black and Latinx horsemen currently laboring in the industry. By focusing on the social significance of whiteness, the reproduction of race and racism, and social exclusion and marginalization within the industry, this research underscores how behind-the-scenes labor at horse racing and riding facilities relies on a racialized labor force. This project situates the historical performance of labor by Black horsemen–including grooming, farriery, and carriage-driving– in relationship to the contemporary labor of Black and Latinx horsemen. In doing so, it positions the most strenuous, dangerous, least regulated and lowest compensated forms of work within the industry as a form of violence which benefits primarily white horse owners, consumers, and spectators.