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The Archaeology of Community Identity in the Past and Remembrance in the Present

The Archaeology of Community Identity in the Past and Remembrance in the Present

Abstract

Based in an enduring belief in a world of spirits and a continuing relationship with one's ancestors, the cemetery became a special venue for the expression of community identity in nineteenth-century Philadelphia, and it remains a special focus of remembrance in the present for Africans in the Diaspora. This paper summarizes research into African-influenced, creolized burial practices in antebellum Philadelphia and their implications for the expression of community identity. Archaeology has played an important role in the rediscovery of cemeteries in cities such as Philadelphia and New York, and the paper also considers the relationship of contemporary African American communities with the resting places of ancestors and the role of archaeological research in the process of reclaiming “lost” cemeteries and lost “history.”
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