Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationVanderbilt U.
Grant numberGr. 9799
Approve DateApril 29, 2019
Project TitleTung, Tiffiny (Vanderbilt U.) "Community Health and Lifeways of Enslaved Peoples in Middle Tennessee: A Bioarchaeological, Isotopic, and Archival Study of Nashville Plantations"
This research will evaluate how the institution of slavery and forced relocations shaped community health, diet, and (mal)nutrition among enslaved individuals in 19th century Tennessee. The study includes a bioarchaeological and isotopic analysis of enslaved individuals who were buried in unmarked graves at the Grassmere Plantation in Nashville and an archival analysis of state public records and private letters and documents from three other TN plantations. One goal of this project is to use isotope data to examine whether the Grassmere individuals were born into slavery at that plantation or were forcibly transported from some other locale, subsequently forging community in conditions that were imposed upon them by slave-holders and the larger institution of slavery. The experience of the Grassmere slaves, particularly relating to forced relocations and health, will be addressed through a larger study of primary and secondary documents about the lives of slaves in TN. This work is deeply informed by African Diaspora studies and theoretical perspectives on embodiment and racial health inequality. Through those theoretical lenses, this work will reveal the lives of those who were oppressed by slavery, ignored from dominant historical narratives, and hidden in death as their bodies were laid in ephemerally marked graves.