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Whitney Battle-Baptiste: Creating a Black Feminist Archaeology

  • James Room, 4th Floor Barnard Hall Barnard College 3009 Broadway New York, NY 10027 (map)

In Black Feminist Archaeology, Whitney Battle-Baptiste, describes her process of combining Black feminism and archaeology, which often appeared and were, in fact, at odds, as a process of “moving mountains and liberating dialogues.” Her book outlines the key tenets of Black feminist thought and research for archaeologists through an analysis of the material past of captive African peoples that enhances the texture and depth of conventional conceptions of these histories.

In the annual Natalie Boymel Kampen Memorial Lecture in Feminist Criticism and History,Battle-Baptiste will discuss how she approached this work, combining inquiries into her own identity and relationship to the field of archaeology, and an intersectional approach to African Diaspora archaeology through a Black feminist theoretical lens. Battle-Baptiste will discuss how these intersectional approaches are vital to improving contemporary historical archaeology, and developing it as a practice linked to broader quests for social and political justice.

Whitney Battle-Baptiste is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and has served as the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst since 2014. A native of the Bronx, New York, Battle-Baptiste is a scholar and activist who sees the classroom and the campus as a space to engage contemporary issues with a sensibility of the past. Her academic training is in history and historical archaeology. Her research is primarily focused on how the intersection of race, gender, class and sexuality look through an archaeological lens. Her research includes archaeological investigation at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage Plantation in Nashville, TN; the Abiel Smith School on Beacon Hill in Boston; the W. E. B. Du Boyhood Homesite in Great Barrington, MA; and a community-based archaeology & heritage project at Millars Plantation, on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. Her first book, Black Feminist Archaeology (Left Coast Press, 2011) outlines the basic tenets of Black feminist thought and research for archaeologists and shows how it can be used to improve contemporary historical archaeology as a whole. Her most recent work an edited volume co-authored with Dr. Britt Rusert of the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, titled W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America (Princeton Architectural Press, 2018).