Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Hampshire College

Grant number

Gr. 10045

Approve Date

October 2, 2020

Project Title

Engmann, Rachel Ama Asaa (Hampshire College) "Autoarchaeology at Christiansborg Castle: Decolonizing Knowledge, Pedagogy and Praxis"

Autoarchaeology at Christiansborg Castle unearths the history and legacies of the Danish transatlantic slave trade from the African Atlantic perspective. Christiansborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a former seventeenth-century trading post, colonial Danish and British seat of government, and Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana. This book provides focuses on the social and material world of African, European and Euro-African slaver ‘communities of interest’ in the eighteenth century. More specifically, it illustrates the ways in which Danes, Ga and Danish-Ga living in and around the castle exploited the socio-cultural, economic and political possibilities represented by the transatlantic slave trade, and the implications for its legacies. The book introduces an approach I term ‘autoarchaeology’ as a conceptual framework for archaeological investigations at the castle. Autoarchaeology refers to an experiential, work-in-progress community archaeology whereby the subject positions of researcher, practitioner and descendant held by the same person, foreground the Self. The book argues that archaeological research privileging direct descendants as knowledge producers, provides an urgent empirical and political corrective to previous work that has consistently privileged European colonial written sources for understanding the African past. Prioritizing direct descendants and the narratives and histories they reconstruct enriches scholarly understandings of key historical moments and legacies, contributing to decolonizing agendas.