Department of Anthropology

Christopher Fennell: Innovation, Industry, and African-American Heritage in Edgefield, South Carolina

Fri, February 1, 2013 | SAC 5.118

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

"Innovation, Industry, and African-American Heritage in Edgefield, South Carolina"

A talk by Christopher Fennell, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The first innovation and development of alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery in America occurred in Edgefield, South Carolina, in the early 1800s CE. These potteries employed enslaved and free African Americans, and stoneware forms also show evidence of likely African cultural influence on stylistic designs. The first Edgefield kiln, built circa 1815, also appears to have been based on the up-hill, dragon kiln design utilized successfully for centuries in southeast China. Edgefield thus represents "a crossroads of clay" where the influences of Asia, Africa, and Europe were combined. This presentation reviews kiln designs over time in Asia and Edgefield, and methods for examining the cultural landscape of pottery production sites and residential districts of free and enslaved laborers in these South Carolina pottery communities. Approaches including LiDAR and remote sensing offer promising strategies for effective reconnaissance and analysis.

Christopher C. Fennell is an anthropologist specializing in historical archaeology as an Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, and Associate Head of the Department of Anthropology, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research projects address aspects of African diaspora heritage and the dynamics of social group affiliations among African Americans and European Americans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Fennell is the founding editor of the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage, publisher and past editor of the African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology, and member of the boards of directors of the Society for Historical Archaeology and the University of Illinois' Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy. His work in African diaspora research has been recognized by award of the 2009 John L. Cotter Award by the Society for Historical Archaeology and the 2010 Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities by the Council for Graduate Schools.

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