Matthew Reilly

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, City College, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10394

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Reilly, Matthew (New York, City College, City U. of) "Liberian Archaeology for the Bicentennial and Beyond: Building Sustainable Practice and Inclusive Heritage at Providence Island"

In 1822, Black Americans first arrived at what would soon be proclaimed Providence Island, setting in motion the colonial project that would lead to the birth of Liberia, Africa’s first Republic, in 1847. In this bicentennial year of 2022, Liberians at home and around the globe are reflecting on this monumental yet poorly understood chapter of African Diasporic history. Almost two decades after a violent civil war (1989-2003), Liberians are contemplating questions surrounding national identity, heritage, and complex Atlantic-World positionalities. Since 2018, members of the Back-to-Africa Heritage and Archaeology (BAHA) project have worked closely with local partners to build a sustainable archaeology and heritage practice in the country that can assist these national interrogations. In the summer of 2023, building on previous field seasons of excavation, we seek to expand this research to undertake laboratory analysis of existing collections for two purposes: (1) to address questions about the diachronic function of Providence Island in the years before, during, and after 1822 settlement and (2) build local capacity for archaeological work through training programs, infrastructure improvements, and accessible exhibition design.