This article presents a dissertation proposal for doctoral research scheduled to begin in September 2007. The project centers on the archaeological investigation of settlements founded in 19th-century Kenya by people escaping slavery. It considers the economic insularity and cultural heterogeneity of runaway slave groups relative to the coastal hinterland communities that neighbored them. In Swahili, fugitive slaves were known as watoro. This project investigates the creation of watoro communities through a dual focus on inter- and intra-group relationships. Firstly, it explores the relative economic integration of these nascent communities into regional networks. Secondly, the project investigates whether fugitive slaves developed homogenized sociocultural norms or, alternately, maintained long-term cultural heterogeneity. The above inquiries will be evaluated through an archaeological comparison of watoro settlements with villages of neighboring Mijikenda peoples in the coastal hinterland. Relying on Mijikenda settlements as alternate examples of 19th-century rural Eastern African life, the project will explore how the status of watoro as refugees from enslavement shaped the economic, social, and cultural organization of their villages. Indices targeted in this investigation include diet, trade, craft production, house style, and spatial organization of domestic activities.
(Wilson) Marshall, Lydia
"Economic Organization and Cultural Cohesion in the Coastal Hinterland of 19th-Century Kenya: An Archaeology of Fugitive Slave Communities,"
African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter:
3, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/adan/vol10/iss3/5