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Mary Ibarrola

Ph. D. Candidate, Anthropology
2019-2020 Rothman Doctoral Fellow

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Florida’s residents experienced frequent geopolitical stress. Colonial documents detail two centuries of international conflict on the peninsula and the resulting borderland was a landscape in which claims to identity, property, and liberty were under constant negotiation. In order to better understand the ways that African descendent peoples dealt with this insecurity, this study will examine the tactics and strategies employed by people of African descent to adapt – in particular, through the everyday creation of place. This research will consist of a comparative archaeological analysis of six Florida sites; these sites range from the Second Spanish Period through the Territorial Period (1736-1860) and were occupied by individuals of varying legal and social status but overlapping ethnic and racial categorization. The study will examine three key categories of archaeological evidence: site distribution, site arrangement and architecture, and flora and fauna. While African descendent peoples were constrained by the decisions of more powerful actors and the colonial structure in which they operated, they also transformed and reproduced that structure through their actions. It was through the ongoing negotiation of space and spatial relations, the very constitution of place, that they enabled their continued existence.