Terrance Weik

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

South Carolina, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9308

Approve Date

April 20, 2016

Project Title

Weik, Dr. Terrance M., U. of South Carolina, Columbia, SC - To aid research on 'An Archaeological Landscape Biography of Chickasaw and Enslaved African Identities in 19th c. Mississippi'

TERRANCE M. WEIK, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, was awarded funding in April 2016 to aid research on “An Archaeological Landscape Biography of Chickasaw and Enslaved African Identities in 19th Century Mississippi.” This project explored the relationship between landscapes, cultural biography, and identity practices related to Levi Colbert’s Prairie (LCP), an archaeological site created by people of African descent and indigenous Chickasaws, in northeastern Mississippi. The study examined the nature of experiences, interactions and qualities of action (e.g. subjective or socially-constructed) that connected people, land features, and animals that were embedded within contexts of racial slavery, nationalistic settler expansion, Chickasaw removal, and frontier political economy. This research employs critical cartography theory to interrogate maps, ethnographic records, and material culture in order to uncover the limitations, interests, rhetorics, and spatial logics shaping landscapes. One major finding is that livestock care facilitated the (re)negotiation of spatial boundaries (e.g. as enslaved and free people followed livestock over long distances), land uses (e.g. for crops or pasture), and work priorities (e.g. slaveholder choices about tasks involving agriculture, built environment, or household duties). Published results are building on the culpability theme in Samuels’s landscape biography theory by making visible animal subjects and experiences, which derive from tensions created by interactions with humans and by the impacts of artifact use. Metal detection surveys at LCP have provided important new findings related to the configuration of the settlement, such as the fact that the built environment is at least 40,000m2 larger than what is suggested by a U.S. “Chickasaw Cession” map and surveyor notes. Excavations have recovered over 9,000 artifacts and many features that demonstrate that geophysical anomalies are indeed cultural products (as opposed to remnants of natural processes or animal behaviors). Several excavated test units have uncovered basin-shaped, multipurpose pits that were used in house construction (e.g. mining daub for house insulation), food preparation (fire pits), and trash disposal.