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LOOKING EAST: MUSLIM IDENTI TY IN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD OF AMERICAN ENSLAVEMENT BY KACIE ALLEN A Thesis Submitted to the Divisions of Social Sciences and Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology/Religion Under the sponsorship of Uzi Baram Sarasota, Florida May 2009
ii Dedication: For those who taught me to believe that words can change the world.
iii Acknowledgements: It is a wonderful thing to find that if you had a boundless space, you might nearly fill it expressing your thankfulness. I owe tha nks to Uzi Baram first. His dedication to advising and providing thoughtful guidance to his students is unmatched. I would like to thank Gregory Hite fo r introducing me to the study of Religion, and John Newman and Susan Marks for taking time to share some of the wealth of knowledge they both possess. Thanks to each of them for keeping it so interesting I nearly became a Religion AOC. Chad Seales deserves thanks for tr uly engaging with his students, and for providing an avenue for his students to explore not simply dogma, but how ones faith can shape ones world. I must acknowledge Maria Vesperi for introducing me to Anthropology, being the amazing Anthropology professor she is, and he r unwavering dedicati on to well-written work. There is no short or simple way for me to capture how enjoyable it is to take classes with Tony Andrews. I am thankful for his stories, from Ecological Anthropology to Mesoamerican Civilization. To each of you, truly: thank you for belie ving in the infinite potential of New College students, and for pushing them toward it. And now for those who taught me outsid e the classroom: First, I must offer thanks to Rex Metcalf for his passion for hi story and willingness to impart so much information about his home for this study. Thanks to my mother for believing in me, teaching me the value of the written word, and supporting my undying passion for learning. A special thanks to Lisa Avron, for being a friend, the sister I never had, and a constant companion as we navigated our sometimes trying academic pursuits. Ron Overing also deserves my gratitude. He has been there to make me smile throughout the process. Thesis year or no, it has been one of the best of my life. Thank you to those who smiled at me on th e way to class, and offered me a beer afterward. For being a colorful, accepting, loving, intelligent, passionate community among whom I felt comfortable making my home these last four years. And finally, thank you to those who were there before. Thank you for being part of the small town life that shaped me and for the adventures we had in our quest to entertain ourselves in necessarily unconventiona l ways in that place. Each word I write and speak remains influenced by you. And my un dying belief in the strength and beauty of the human spirit was born in my times with you.
iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Page DEDICATION ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii TABLE OF CONTENTS iv LIST OF FIGURES v ABSTRACT vi CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER II: A CRITICAL AND EM ANCIPATORY AFRICAN DIASPORA ARCHAEOLOGY: ACKNOWLEDGING A MUSLIM PRESENCE AMONG ENSLAVED AFRICAN AMERICANS 7 CHAPTER III: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF ISLAM AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF AFRICAN MUSLIM ENSLAVEMENT 27 CHAPTER IV: THE POWER OF WORDS: STORIES OF ENSLAVED MUSLIMS IN THE AMERICAS 52 CHAPTER V: BLUE BEADS AND LITTLE THINGS: MUSLIM ARTIFACTS IN AMERICA 86 CHAPTER VI: INTERPRETING MA TERIAL EXPRESSIONS OF ID ENTITY 124 CHAPTER VII: CONCLUSION 132 BIBLIOGRAPHY: 136
v LIST OF FIGURES Page Fig. 3.1 Map of major states in West Africa in the 16th century 40 Fig.3.2 Timeline of West African conflicts resulting in Mu slim enslavement 44 Fig. 4.1 Photograph of Omar ibn Said 63 Fig. 4.2 Photograph of Katie Brown on Sapelo Island 67 Fig. 4.4 Photograph of the mosque at Timbo in the 1930s 74 Fig. 4.5 Portrait of Abdul Rahaman 78 Fig. 5.1 Map of Hermitage Plantatio n: Standing structures and arch aeological sites 91 Fig. 5.2 Copper-alloy hand charms from the Hermitage 93 Fig. 5.3 Hand Charm recovered at Poplar Forest 94 Fig. 5.4 Cabins at Behavior and New Barn Creek, 1857 appended map 95 Fig. 5.5 Map showing arc of slave cabi ns south of Kingsley Plantation house 96 Fig. 5.6 Blue beads recovered from beneath cabin floors, Sapelo Island 98 Fig. 5.7 Strands of beads found at Lattings Hundred, Huntington, New York 118
vi LOOKING EAST: MUSLIM IDENTITY IN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD OF AMERICAN ENSLAVEMENT Kacie Allen New College of Florida, 2009 ABSTRACT A significant number of those Africans en slaved in the Americas were Muslim. Archaeological investigation has yet to be made concerning their story. This thesis explores the archaeology of Islam to provide a foundation for understanding the materiality of Muslim identity as it appears in the context of American enslavement, and the historical circumstances which resulted in significant numbers of African Muslims becoming enslaved in the Americas. Drawi ng on the documentary record, it relates a selection of the life storie s of enslaved African Ameri can Muslims. In pursuit of a critical, explanatory, and emancipatory archaeology, an examination of artifacts recovered from contexts of Af rican and African American enslavement in North America is made. A model of Diaspora analysis is applied to a case in Long Island, New York which weighs Islam as a potential cultural interp retation for a particular set of artifacts. It is evident that distinctly Muslim expressions are visible in the archaeological record at sites of African enslavement in the Americas Moreover, future African Diaspora studies should consider the influence of the tradition of Islam as they attempt to recover meaning from the archaeological record. Signature __________________ Professor Uzi Baram Division of Social Sciences
1 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION On the day of Barack Obamas inauguration in 2009, a journalism crew traveled to Sapelo Island off the coast of Georgia to talk to Cornelia Walker Bailey, a writer, preservationist, and the descendent of an enslaved Muslim man know n as Bilali. His life story is related in full later in this thesis. In short, he was a Fula from Timbo, Futa Jallon, in the highlands of present-day Guinea-Cona kry. He was enslaved and brought to the Bahamas, and then after 1803 brought to Geor gia where he spent most of his captivity managing the plantation of Thomas Spalding on Sapelo Island. A few of his descendents were interviewed in the 1930s for the Geor gia Writers Project commissioned by the Works Progress Administration. Bilali and his family were remembered for their distinctly Muslim practices. He had many child ren to whom he passed on African names, terms, and traditions that were clearly Muslim. The journalists visiting Sa pelo in January of 2009 were surprised at what they found in the churches there. They repo rted that men and women commonly sit on opposite sides of the church during services as in a mosque, and all shoes had to be removed in services until recently, and th at the churches face Mecca and people are buried facing Mecca (Martin 2009). Islam equipped Bilali and others with spiritual means to both resist and accommodate their captive circumstances, to stru cture their worlds, to bring a system of order to the turmoil of slaver y. Islam as a religion does not persist today on Sapelo Island. Its residents, even those who count them selves among Bilalis descendents, do not identify as part of the worldwide umma And yet the way Islam as a tradition was
2 embraced, inherited, and alternatively faded ther e is worthy of note. Bilalis legacy lives today, as Sapelos residents pray toward the east, albeit no longer with bare-soled feet. Historical archaeology has many goals, among them the supplementing and challenging of history known through the docum entary record and th e reconstruction of life ways of people in the past. The cumula tive evidence wrought through both processes is a central concern of this thesis. The goals of archaeological resear ch necessarily change with the time period and region involved. This continuous shift in goals often also mirrors the concerns of the present. Yet, Barb ara Little identifies a thread which connects the disciplines goals, of finding the presen t-day meaning of the historical past and making the past meaningful and useful (2007:22 ). Both the characteristic of reflecting present-day concerns, and the in terest in making the past meaningful and useful, account for the previous absence and current presence of interest in the subject of this thesis. The result of two concerns of the last few decades is an increase in scholarly interest in African American Islam. One is the increasing deve lopment of African American archaeology. The other is the rising demand for information about Islam as the United States involvement with predominan tly Muslim countries becomes increasingly complex. It is in this atmosphere, while a st udent in Professor Chad Seales Introduction to Islamic Civilization course, that I first heard an enslaved African Muslims story. The story of Omar ibn Said (related in detail in the fourth chapter), a Muslim scholar who found himself enslaved in North Carolina in 1807, transf ormed what I knew of American slavery, history, and ultimate ly archaeology. More than ever before, I became acutely aware of the silences of offi cial histories. Despite all the details known about his life, his story is not told in Americas public school s. There is something telling
3 about Littles revelation that ou r interest in the past is dr awn from our concerns in the present. At the time I began my research, I naiv ely believed that it would be difficult to discover the stories of enslaved Muslims in Amer ica. It was not. It was scholarly interest in the subject which was difficult to unear th. There are only a handful of volumes published on the subject even today, albeit some are amazing resources (see Gomez 1998, 2005 and Austin 1984). I became interested both in official historys silence on the subject of enslaved African Muslims in Amer ica, and the nature of their experience. It seems that the concerns of the presen t have not yet stirred archaeologists to ask questions about the enslaved Muslim presence in the Americas. Historical archaeologys interest in reconstructing past life ways includes attention to understanding past worldviews. The object of this thesis is to ex plore the material culture of Muslim identity in the context of enslavement in the Americas. I am interested in Islam as a worldview, a system of meaning, which for some enslaved African Americans would have shaped their world, from objects, food, and clothing to the actions of their days. Like Barbara Little (2007), I am intri gued by the way we connect with selective parts of the past, and yet I remain unsettled by it. This stems from my interest in an emancipatory approach to archaeology, one wh ich recognizes its potential to effect positive social change. Dean Saiita (2007) suggests that archaeology may be emancipatory if it places a priority on the consequences of knowledge-claims for everyday life, for how we want to live and for the building of a genuinely pluralistic community characterized by mutual understand ing and respect (2007:14). I am unsettled by the disrespect inherent in silencing a peopl e through the omissions of official histories.
4 I recognize that in the process of nego tiating ones place, asse rting ones identity, and reconciling ones system of beliefs during a continuous struggle with a captive existence and changing circumstances, various forms of accommodation and resistance would have been necessary. Undoubtedly so me traditional pract ices and modes of expression changed, while others remained the same. In this thesis I propose that those practicing the archaeology of the African Diaspora and African-American slavery re-examine the record, focusing on ideology and the expression of cultural identity. The maintenance and negotiation of Muslim identity in contexts of American captivity may be difficult to recover arch aeologically. I suggest it may be seen in the acquisition and use of obj ects with particular co veted characteristics which would have been assigned meaning by their users. In the second chapter, I lay the th eoretical framework for a critical and emancipatory African Diaspora archaeology, one which acknowledges a Muslim presence whilst studying the landscape of Afri can-American enslavement. I also present a model for analyzing the materiality of ideo logy and social identity. I convey some key elements of the archaeology of Islam necessary for an exploration of the materiality of Muslim life ways and worldview in Chapter Three. I also suggest forms which Muslim belief might take in the archaeological r ecord, and some examples of how people observed their faith and articulated their ident ity in captive situations. This chapter also includes a detailed exploration of the ci rcumstances under which many West African Muslims were enslaved and brought to Amer ica. Americas introduction to Islam was early, much earlier than popular histories often relate. The rapi d spread of the faith since its inception in the seventh century meant that it had been well-established in West Africa
5 for centuries by the time the first slaves we re shipped to the Americas in 1501. It has even been suggested that in 1492 Islam came with Columbus in the form of Muslims among his crews (Gomez 2005:ix). Carl Ernst (2003:18) estimates 10-15% of the enslaved population may have been Muslim. Though they constituted a significant presence in antebellum North America, like other enslaved individuals of their time, few of their stories have survived. And yet, the life stories of enslaved individuals which have survived are disproportionately Muslim. I explore some of these stories in the fourth chapter. In this thesis I am concerned with mate rial remains which indi cate religious ritual activity associated with Muslim identity. In Chapter Five I examine artifacts recovered from contexts of African and African Amer ican enslavement in North America, and evaluate the potential for their being interp reted as material expressions of Muslim identity. These include blue glass beads, which are found at sites of enslavement throughout the United States, and brass hand charms, which have been recovered at multiple plantation sites. I apply a model of research employed by Christopher Fennel (2007), drawing on his notion of tangible herita ge. In Chapter Six I apply this model to a particular set of artif acts at the site of Lattings Hundred in Long Island to evaluate the weight of a particular cultural interpretation. The story of enslaved African Muslims in America contains many obstacles. Most slaves were male, spouses and children were often sold off, fertility was low and infant mortality high, making family life and the tran smission of traditions nearly impossible. Although the tradition of Islam struggled and ne ver ultimately thrived in captive contexts in America, the legacy of enslaved Muslims can be seen even today. Islam may well have
6 influenced African American culture and been important to Americas early development in ways not yet understood. In the thesis that follows I lay th e foundation for understanding the enslaved African Muslim presence in America. Ultimately, it is an examination of a particular set of artifacts. Yet underlying this thesis is a la rger concern for a cri tical archaeology with emancipatory potential, one with the possibility of challenging official histories. I suggest that distinctly Muslim expressions are visible in the archaeological record at sites of African enslavement in the Americas. As arch aeologists attempt to recover meaning from that record, Islam should join the complex of identities over which th ey puzzle, and from which they ultimately craft stories about the past.
7 CHAPTER II: A CRITICAL AND EMANCIPATORY AFRICAN DIASPORA ARCHAEOLOGY: ACKNOWLEDGING A MUSLIM PRESENCE AMONG ENSLAVED AFRICAN AMERICANS Interest in the history of enslaved Afri can Muslims in the Americas is growing, though only a handful of books have been written concerning their existence. Though those interested in the archaeology of the African Diaspora have begun to consider the material expressions of worldvi ews and identity, they have t hus far neglected Islam. This chapter will lay the theoretical framework for a critical and emancipatory African Diaspora archaeology, one which acknowledge s a Muslim presence while studying the landscape of African-American enslavement. According to Theresa Singleton (1995: 121), subsequent to the trend toward studies of black Americans and other ethnic groups in the 1960s and 70s, the archaeological study of people who left fe w written records emerged. Studies with various lines of focus developed, such as the archaeology of slavery and plantation archaeology. They were the antecedents to the African American archaeology which developed in the 1990s. The objective of this research, Singleton writes, was to give a presence to the forgotten or neglected voices in American history (1995:121). The aim of this study follows that trajectory. And yet, though it seemed a noble pursu it to make Asian-, Latino-, or AfricanAmericans the focus of their studies, Singlet on argues that by concentrating on ethnic minorities that are both culturally and physically distinct from the white majority in the United States, archaeologists inadvertently created an archaeology of the Other (1995:121). Multiple approaches have been taken. Some seek an understanding of the nature of life and past life ways, examini ng the living conditions of slavery. Others study
8 power relations, focusing on domination, resistance, and acculturation. Some are interested in other complexities, expanding knowledge about status differences or gender (Galle and Young 2004) in plan tation slavery. Still others focus on the dynamics of the formation of African-American cultural iden tities. With each new lens through which archaeologists choose to look they improve their conceptual framework, averting categorization as an archaeology of the Other. Critical Archaeology Charles Orser (1994) finds that few arch aeologists have chosen to focus on the ideology of enslaved people or study their religious traditions. Like Orser, I believe It would be nave to imagine that during the Middle Passage all slaves forgot the gods and spirits they worshipped, feare d, and appeased, and that because of their enslavement they lost faith in the rituals and belief systems th at had sustained them for generations (Orser 1994:35). The dehumanizing nature of slavery is in the deprivation of human qualities of the enslaved in the minds of their captors, not in an actual reduction of their humanity. In this thesis I propose that those practicing the archaeology of African and African-American slavery re-examine th e record, focusing on ideology and the expression of cultural identity. Singleton cautio ns that Because the factors that produce cultural identities varied through space and time, the archaeological evidence of cultural identities will also be vari able, and thus archaeological studies should seek to understand how material expressions (eth nic boundaries) emerged, how they are maintained or eliminated, and how they are tran sformed, but this kind of analysis is rarely attempted in African-American archaeology (1995:134). The reason lies not with the archaeological or historical da ta but with the theoretical fr aming for the investigations.
9 In this chapter I want to present what it means for archaeology to be critical, emancipatory and explanatory. The chapter will outline a framework for analyzing the materiality of ideology and social identity. It will also raise ideas about dominant and suppressed histories, archaeology and its rela tionship with historically marginalized groups, coping, resistance, and the maintenance of an Islamic identity in the wake of continuous struggles with power and change. Mark Leone, Parker Potter, and Paul Sh ackel have explored the way critical theory may be used in archaeology, suggesti ng that a critical ar chaeology may produce more reliable knowledge of the past by explorin g the social and political contexts of its production (1987:285). The f oundation archaeology is epis temological. How do we know what we know? The production of knowledge via any discipline, is not apolitical. It is value-laden, from the hopes of the resear chers to the aims of the institutions and individuals who provide a projects funding. For Leone et al. (1987), critical theory questions the point of view from which conclusions are constructed. It recognizes the relationship between knowledge of the past and the context of its production. The context is political and social; it is ideology. They suggest critical theory uses ideology in many senses, but the ideology of which they speak is unnoticed, taken for granted, and act ivated and reproduced in use, and is the means by which inequality, bondage, frustration, etc, are made acceptable, rationalized, or hidden (1987: 284). Discussions of ideology in archaeology are not novel, but what is relevant here is the employment of the concept to describe ineq uality. In such studies inequality implies the alienation of labor the use of goods and services without a full return of value to
10 their producers, and Leone et al. suggest that One word for this asymmetrical relationship is exploitati on, where ideology hides a nd masks exploitation or rationalizes by naturalizing or super-naturalizing it (1987: 284). A complex ideology functioned to rationalize the enslavement of Africans in the Am ericas, and it was a complex ideology that masked Islam in the lives of some enslaved Africans in America. Critical archaeology spawns an agenda of revealing hidden histories (Baram 2009: personal communication). It casts shadows of doubt on familiar history, asking questions about the past which recognize those sometimes denied a history. It is from this questioning that an emancipatory and explanatory archaeology stem. Dean Saitta (2007:3) situates critical archaeology as an explanatory and emancipatory enterprise, explanatory, in th e sense of producing causal knowledge of the past that respects accumulated data; emancipa tory, in the sense of promoting reflection upon the present in ways that can help reali ze human freedom, potential, and dignity. I draw on Saittas description of arch aeology as having a dual nature. Borrowing from Wilk (1985), Saitta states that On th e one hand, it [archaeology] is a search for objective, verifiable knowledge about the pastarchaeologist s use explicitly formulated theory and methods to clarify and expand our understanding of human history (2007:1). Yet, Saitta asserts there is a general cons ensus that the knowledge generated about the world is constrained by that world. He writes that There are facts of the matter to be appropriated, and it is the goal of scientific archaeology to parlay the facts within its domain into historical truth (2007:1). This suggests the act ive construction of the past rather than its passive existen ce. Saitta finds the other side of archaeologys nature an irreducibly human enterprise, As Wilk frames it, archaeology conducts an informal and
11 often hidden political and philosophical dialogue w ith the major issues of contemporary life (2007:1). It is as a result of this dialogue with contemporary life that archaeological knowledge sometimes unwittingly reinforces negative agendas. Theresa Singletons argument at the beginning of this chapter that archaeologists focusing on ethnic minorities created an archaeology of the Other, is one such case. Alternatively, some feminist archaeologists (Gero and Conkey 1991 ) have argued for including gender in archaeology. The goal is not to add women and stir, but to theorize the roles of women and men in the past. I suggest not that Af rican Diaspora archaeology should add Islam and stir, but that it inquire into the roles of enslaved Muslim individuals in the past. This thesis recognizes the significance of Saittas stance for the archaeology of class for rethinking archaeology of the Af rican Diaspora. His exploration of the archaeology of collective action (2007) fr amed by the case of the Colorado Coalfield Strike at Ludlow, Colorado, offers one m odel for archaeology as an emancipatory enterprise. An emancipatory approach recogn izes the potential of archaeology to effect positive social change. Saitta finds that, Aware of archaeology s class position and hi storical ties to colonialist projects, descendent communities are putting pressure on archaeologists to write pasts that acknowledge the history, human ity, and creativity of their ancestors and to incorporate traditional knowle dge and voices into those narrati ves (2007:2). It is this situation which is inspiring more critical, se lf-aware, and even activist approaches. The critical archaeology or workingclass archaeology Saittas wo rk develops is offered as an antidote to official histories. He finds that, Official historiesespecially in th e American West are nationalist, progressive, and triumphal, emphasizing social unity and continuity of the existing social order and its institutions. They gloss over periods of
12 transformation and rupture or spin those ruptures (for example, the Civil War) as always having produced a better society, a more perfect union. In contrast, critical histories deal with context, transformation, and rupture, addressing both the historical process and different narratives about the process. Both kinds of history often conflict with vernacular histories of the past. Vernacular histories are local histories derived from the firsthand, everyday experience of those people who were directly involved with historys events. They are passed around the kitchen table, conveying what social reality feels like rather than what it should be like. Vernacular histories threaten the sacred and timeless nature of official history, just as critical history threatens vernacular history (2007:13). A critical archaeology destabilizes notions of how things came to be. It has emancipatory potential if it can promote refl ection on the present in ways that can help realize human freedom and dignity. This evin ces archaeology as a discipline concerned not just with the past, but with the present. Saitta recognizes that ther e is a real past about which secure knowledge can be produced, but he notes that knowledge is both constructed (dependent upon theoretical exte nsions beyond observables) and contextual (shaped by contemporary social conditions and trends) (2007:6, emphasis original). This thesis employs a framework through which knowledge may be constructed, relying on theoretical extensions informed by concer ns about ideology and the maintenance of identity. It is, however, shaped by contempor ary social conditions surrounding race and Islam. These conditions include an academic climate in which it has been acknowledged that it is a worthwhile endeavor to engage mu ltiple interests in the past, especially those of historically disenfranchised groups, such as those indigenous and descendent populations which have been marginalized, to provide new perspectives on Wolfs (1982) people without history, those muted by capitalist endeavors. And yet, it remains true that gender, race, and class are the primary axes of social identity along which material resources and li fe chances are differentially distributed in the modern world (Saitta 2007:5). The knowle dge produced, or more importantly, being
13 shared, is shaped by the same forces which govern the radical differe ntiation of material resources and perpetuate sexism and racism in the world today. It is ambitious but appropriate to hope that knowledge produced in the vein of this thesis can promote reflection on the present human condition and thus reach emancipatory potential. It is in this way that those archaeologists whose inte rests include peoples without history may avoid creating Singletons archaeology of the Other. The Archaeology of Ideology, Identity, and Islam A framework for analyzing the material culture of ideology an d identity will be explanatory. That is, it will produce causal knowledge of the past while respecting accumulated data. The locus of its concern will be the meaning of things, and the concerns of cognitive and wh at have been called postp rocessual archaeologies. Flannery and Marcus (1998) have defined cognitive archaeology as the study of all those aspects of anci ent culture that ar e the product of the human mind: the perception, description, and the classification of the universe (cosmology); the nature of the supernatural (religion); the principles, philosophies, ethics, an d values by which human societies are governed (ideology); the ways in which aspects of the world, the supernatural, or human values are conveyed in art (iconography); and all other forms of human intellectual and symbolic behaviour that survive in the archaeol ogical record (37). Postprocessual archaeology, that is, the movement which has attempted to add to and critically improve pro cessualist theory, places em phasis on the recognition in interpretations of the individual human agen t. Where I share postp rocessual concerns, I am concerned with human action as it nego tiated with a framework to assign things meaning, understand relationships, and resist or accommodate a vari ety of circumstances. In addition, my framework employs a model developed by Christopher Fennel (2007), through which he explored the ways in which particular cultures and their intangible heritage survived, diminished, or continued to develop in the face
14 oftransatlantic colonial regimes imposed by Eu ropean interests (3,4). As a historical archaeologist concentrating on the African Di aspora in North America, Fennel focuses on recovering the meaning of things found in the archaeological record. In order to consider the materiality of the enslaved Muslim presen ce in the Americas requires an exploration of the meaning of artifacts for people in the past. How does one begin to understand the why of the actions of the people of the past? Is it fruitful to ask questions such as: What specifically did these things, the objects of their actions, mean to people? David Whitley claims One key point about meaning is that there are always multiple levels of it there is no single meaning embedded in any symbol, act of communication, or by extens ion, artifact (1998:99). This fluid or multivalent nature of meaning complicates th e archaeological endeavor to reconstruct past life ways, creating doubt as to the viability of attemp ts to understand the concerns, values, or ideas of the peoples of the past. It has been suggest ed that the intensive debate about whether it is possible to reconstruct pa st belief systems is ir relevant if the dynamic quality of the text is acknowledged as intrinsic, whether the medium be geoglyphs, rock art, textile designs or oral text, and it is understood that the meaning at the time of creation will not necessarily coincide with the meaning derived at any point in time that the text is read (Clarkson 1998:124). Thus an attempt to reconstruct the belief systems religions, ideologies, or cosmologies of past peoples, rather than simply recover the material they used, may be seen as a feasib le endeavor. Though again, such an endeavor must be understood as a process taking place within present social and intellectual milieus.
15 I suggest that the meaning of things be considered in the acquisition, possession, and shaping of objects. Dorothy Holser (1998:1 6) conveys that The relative weight of ideological as opposed to other factors varies with the particulars of the social and environmental circumstances, yet finds that particular fundamental religious beliefs in the past which were emphasized by properties such as sound and color could be embedded in and perpetuated by a technology and its products. I will return to the shaping of objects by symbolic and ideo logical meanings while examining and reexamining the materiality of Mus lim identity in a later chapter. I stated above that the multivalent na ture of the meaning conveyed can make endeavors to reconstruct the past difficult. Accepting the dynamic qua lity of the material is only one facet of the necessary framework. Persis B. Clarkson, discussing the reality of past landscapes, has invoked their grounding in a processual and thus interactive performance (1998:122). Acknowledging objects in performance, rather than having a static nature, assists in the r ecovery of meaning. Just as m eaning shapes the course of a persons day, so it shapes the materiality of t hose days. Islam is in each act of kneeling in prayer toward Mecca, and so there is a system of meaning that places the prayer rug or mat under the knees of the believer, which shap es the way an enslaved woman covers her hair, or the beads worn around ones waist or neck. This study is specifically concerned with enslaved African Muslim identity and the preservation of Muslim pr actice in the Americas. I recognize that any attempt to define a particular identity may risk presumptuousness, especially for archaeology. Nevertheless, among my primary aims is to apply an explanatory framework which
16 allows for the interpretation of artifacts of African American religious practices and expressions of cultural identity found in sites in the Americas. Islam as Identity Muslim identity is grounded in a pers onal association with the religious tradition of Islam. Thus to understand what it means to be a Muslim, one must possess at least a basic understanding of Islam. A concise definition acknowledges the bases of Muslim faith and practice, the five articles of faith and what are known as the Five Pillars, and that they structure the life of the faithful. Th e five articles of faith include a faith in God (perhaps best exemplified by the term tawhid meaning both Gods oneness and the human acknowledgment of it), faith in the re ality of angels (such as Gabriel through whom Muhammad encountered God), faith in Gods messengers (recipients of Gods revelation to mankind are known as prophe ts and messengers, prophets act among specific communities of people, but messengers, such as Muhammad, have received divine revelation, and thus have universal significance for a ll people), faith in the holy books (Muslims recognize Jewish and Christian scriptures as divine revelations, though distorted, thus necessitating th e final revelation, related to Muhammad and recorded as the Quran), and faith in the Day of Resurrectio n and Judgment (a belief that at the end of time all people will be gathered together fo r an accounting of how they have lived their lives) (Smith 1999: 6-8). The essentials of living a good and res ponsible life are expressed in the Five Pillars: shahada, salat zakat Ramadan, and hajj The shahada is a profession of faith in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as his prophet. Salat is the obligation of prayer five times a day toward Mecca. Zakat is the requirement to give
17 alms, traditionally taking the form of a tax of a percentage of the value of the total of ones worldly possessions. Ramadan is the month of fasting during daylight hours, exercising ones physical a nd spiritual discipline. Hajj refers to the requirement of pilgrimage, specifically to the holy city of Mecca, birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and home to the Kaba, the most sacred shrine in Islam. Although each act performed by a Muslim may not be a ritual act, the provisions of the faith structure ones life, resulting in an ever-present recognition of the sacred and the profane. Islamic Studies scholar Jane I. Smith recognizes that the many individuals who over the centuries have called themselves Muslims have shaped and developed Islam as a living faith (1998:22). The worldwide umma or Muslim community, is diverse. Thus, while it is true that Islam defines Muslim identity, the choices which Muslims make about how to understand and practice th e faith in turn define Islam. This underscores the importance of recognizing the role of id eology and the agency of individuals in an attempt to recover m eaning from the archaeological record. The Meaning of Material Culture Though the provisions of the Muslim faith offer one way to identify what it means to be a Muslim, if my definition of Mu slim identity acknowledged only individuals connection to a religious trad ition it would be too narrow. It would not provide a holistic means of understanding that identity. Culture, cosmology, and heritage, as outlined by Christopher Fennel, may help further eluc idate a definition of Muslim identity. Fennels (2007) Crossroads and Cosmologies: Diasporas and Ethnogenesis in the New World explores the ways that enslaved Af ricans maintained aspects of their traditions and identities in the Americas, a nd finds that material culture exemplifying
18 symbolic modes of expression contributed to the persistence of these traditions. He recognizes changes in individual customs and be liefs allowing for creation of new social groups and new expressions of identity, and ultimately offers a model for examining the material culture of Diasporic Africans and Europeans and un derstanding cultural transformations over time. In attempting to interpret finds from a small log house in Virginia, he examines cultural belief syst ems and specific symbols of the BaKongo and Yoruba cosmologies, development of African -American religious expressions in the Americas, and the spiritual traditions (C hristian and other) of German-speaking immigrants. The site of the house was occupied by German immigrants beginning in the late 1700s, who had purchased enslaved African-A mericans. During excavations of the house Fennel uncovered a small, sculpted figure in the form of a human skull which bore inscriptions of initials and a cross-line motif dating to a period between 1780 to 1860 that he believed was likely created pursuant to a system of religious and cosmological beliefs (2007:12). The attributes of the artifact initially led him to think it was created by an African American person subscribing to beliefs and practices of the BaKongo culture of West Africa. After exploring similar arti facts exhibiting crosslined motifs, and the cultural belief system s mentioned above, he concluded that symbolism derived from particular African cultures did not provide th e most persuasive basis for interpretation. Rather, he interprets the meaning of the artif act as an expression of a system of GermanAmerican folk belief. His model of research allows for the weighi ng of interpretations, providing an avenue by which to evaluate suggestions conc erning material expressions created pursuant to religious or cosmological beliefs. He states,
19 Culture, in the general sense, entails the learned beliefs, knowledge, practices, and behavior with which a people live as a group. As a central element of such a shared meaning system, a cosmology comprises the way a group understands the workings of the world, nature, and the cosmos. Cosmologies thus encompass what we think of as religion, physics, and philosophy in a comprehensive framework (2007:1). I suggest that Islam both shapes what Fe nnel defines as culture and serves as a cosmology. As it structures beliefs, knowledge practice, and behavior, Islam may then also be recognized as cultural identity. This cultural identity is reflected in the heritage of a group. Fennel discusses heritage as both a ta ngible and intangible concept. Borrowing from the United Nations Educational, Scie ntific, and Cultural Or ganization (UNESCO), Fennel defines intangible cultural heritage as t he practices, representa tions, expressions, knowledge, skills as well as the instrument s, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith that communities groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cu ltural heritage (2007:3). Tangibl e heritage is produced when people create and shape material culture as they subscribe to, l earn, and perform these beliefs and practices. The two forms of he ritage continually participate in an interdependent process where the production and presence of tangible heritage reinforces beliefs and practices. This process served as a critical mech anism for the transatlantic movement of particular African traditions during the slav e trade. As Fennel explains, European slave traders could steal their captiv es heirlooms, but not their intangible facets of knowledge, beliefs, and expressive skill, though captive Afri cans were rarely able to transport their tangible cultural heritage with them to the Americas, their knowledge, beliefs, and skills in performing the cultural traditions of the society from which they were abducted could
20 be applied in locations in the Americas to create new material expressions of those legacies (2007:2). Thus Muslim identity, religious and cultural, was expressed in terms of intangible and tangible heritage. Fennels model presents several other useful notions, such as ethnogenic bricolage, the ethnohistorical approach, core symbols and their emblematic and instrumental expressions, and systems of meaning, human agency, and the ability of archaeologists to access and understand these, which will be outlined below. Charles Orser (1994:38) writes The sear ch for African-inspired objects forms the core of the archaeol ogy of slave religion,1 since such objects provide concrete evidence that African peoples retained elements of their cultures in the New World. In general this was true, both of the arch aeology of slave religion and the archaeology of enslaved life ways. Theresa Singleton finds it true of the work of Leland Ferguson (1992). Fergusons Uncommon Ground: Archaeology a nd Early African America 1650-1800 discusses both the artifacts left by enslav ed Africans/African Americans being found by archaeologists and how those artifacts are being used together with hi story and folklore to learn new things about African American life ways. It is at once a disc ussion of artifacts, primarily Colono Ware, a hand-built pottery used by both Native Americans and African Americans, and a presentation of archaeologi cal evidence for African-American religious ritual in eighteenthcentury South Carolina involving that pottery and ot her artifacts. Singleton claims that Ferguson s study is problematic becaus e like many others with an 1 Insofar as people develop their own culture th ey are not slaves -Margaret Washington Creel. Reflecting on this quote, Ferguson (2004) observed, Int erpreted more actively, this assertion implies that insofar as people create their own culture in the face of slaverys oppression they resist slavery (2004: 118). I consider the term slave religion problematic, and have attempted to avoid the term slave in this thesis. To refer to any individual as a slave assumes their entire identity may be summarized by their captive experience, and that the sole concerns of th eir existence were the will of those who subordinated them.
21 aim of understanding the cultural identity of Af rican-Americans in material culture, it gives primacy to evidence supporti ng the continuity of an Afri can heritage rather than to its discontinuity and reconfiguration, and recommends that since both processes were involved in the creation of African-Ameri can culture, evidence of both should be involved in analyses of creolization (1995:133). Therefore, though captive Africans c ould draw on their intangible cultural heritage, it should be clear that when that he ritage was translated to tangible forms in the Americas, the products should not be simply s een as survivals or Africanisms, but rather expressions of identity in a multicultural at mosphere. Since the ability of ideological factors to affect the production of material cultu re varies with the par ticulars of social and environmental circumstances, the multicultura l and oppressive atmosphere of enslaved life in the Americas would warrant a process of creative interacti on and exchange during the expression of social identity even when individuals had access to a strong system of intangible cultural heritage. Fennel refers to this process as ethnogenic bricolage a notion I will return to shortly. One of the strengths of Fennels model is his focus of the expression of core symbols during the formation and maintenance of sociocultural identities. Core symbols may be emblematic or instrumental, and serve as expressions of fundamental elements of cultural groups cosmologies and senses of identity. They may be communicated through spoken words, ritual performances, or depi cted in tangible, graphic forms through material culture (Fennel 2007: 7). Though it is instrumental versions of core symbols which ultimately inform the framework being de veloped in this chapter, it is important to understand their source. Fennel relates that co re symbols span a continuum of expression,
22 where emblematic versions serve to summa rize the identity of a culture group as a cohesive unit and are illust rated by such symbols as a na tional flag, the crucifix of Christianity, or the Star of David for Judaism (2007:8). Where emblematic forms often serve as a public expression of collective identity, instrumental forms often serve personal pur poses. Instrumental symbols are frequently abbreviated forms of a core symbol of a cultural belief system, used for private expressions. Fennel finds that the individual us e of such abbreviated forms can lead to stylistic innovation and the cr eation of new symbolic repert oires to express membership in social networks formed in new settings (2007:27). Ultimately, it is the expression of core symbols which is most likely to leave a trace in the archaeologi cal record which may aid in a re covery of meaning. Core symbols are a mode of expressing ones heritage, where heritage is understood as a system for defining ones identity. I now return to the notion of ethnogenic bricolage Fennel states, Ethnogenic bricolage en tails a creative process in which individuals raised in different cultures inter act in new settings, often at the geographic crossroads of multiple diasporas. In these new locations, individuals tend to desist from displaying emblematic expressions of the core symbols of the former culture groups from which they were abducted or compelled to depart. Yet, instrumental expressions of those same core symbols continue with vi gor and are employed in private, individual spaces as part of invocations for healing, self-protection, and prayers for the vitality of loved ones (2007:9). Others (such as Ferguson 1992) have used the term creolization to communicate similar notions of cultural interaction or blending in multicultural settings. Fennel avoids the term due to its widespread use without a clear definition, and the emphasis some studies have placed on the dominant status of one group over another in past social settings (2007:128). Fennel finds that instru mental symbolic expressions, due to their
23 abbreviated quality become multivalent, and easily open to interpretation and reinterpretation. Thus, they may be easily manipulated and combined to communicate new meanings in new settings, providing so lidarity in a captive situation where previously they had been used uniqu ely to express separate identities. Ethnogenic bricolage serves as one method for understanding how individuals may utilize and manipulate modes of expression previously available to them to negotiate new and unfamiliar situations such as enslavement. Fennel employs these theoretical insights concerning expressions of identity and core symbols to formulate a methodology fo r assessing the significance of artifacts uncovered at African American domestic sites in North America dating to the late seventeenth through nineteenth centuries ( 2007:27-28). He proposes a predictive model based on a set of ethnohistorical evidence concer ning the past beliefs and practices of the BaKongo culture in West Central Africa during the relevant time pe riods and anticipates the changes over time due to the impacts of th e transatlantic slave trade, predicting the patterns of symbolic expressions one would expect to see in new settings (2007:28). This approach builds on the sc ientific as well as critical traditions in archaeology. I propose a similar model may be applied with re gard to the materiality of Muslim identity in the same manner, drawing on the relevant documentary record for enslaved African American Muslims. Fennels model delineates some other us eful considerations for an archaeology concerned with the analysis of the material ity of ideology and identity. These include reflections about systems of meaning, human agency, material culture as a passive or
24 active part of cultural practices and the ability of archaeol ogists to access and understand these. Above I suggested that heritage can be seen as a system for defining identity, where Fennels core symbols are seen as mode s of expressing ones heritage. This does not account for how systems of meaning continue to function for individuals in less than ideal situations, such as that of enslaved Muslims, as they are products of communities. The approach Fennel finds most appropr iate when considering the intentional creation of material culture expressing religious beliefs a nd spiritual invocations through symbolic core symbols is one where an ethn ic marker is viewed as representing a past social actors conscious efforts to create ma terial culture expressions that signal group identity and membership to others, and r ecognizes that consistent patterns can exist within such material culture, because each member purposefully and consciously expressed elements of the groups shared meaning system in those objects (2007:34). This is also the way traditions are created, during the process where by intangible heritage becomes tangible heritage. I am concerned with individual human action or locating the individual in these systems. Fennel addresses the relationship of individual agents perceptions of ethnicity and associated modes of interaction, and the cultural contex ts and social relations in which they are embedded within the th eoretical framework of Bourdieus habitus (2007:36). He finds that habitus as a social structure consis ting of a shared system of beliefs and practices learned from an early age onward provides each group member with a set of durable dispositions toward certai n ways of perceiving the world and conducting
25 oneself (2007:37). This accounts for the sim ilar expressions applie d by social actors in varied contexts. But while these durable dispositions exist, individuals make th e choice to actively express their identities, or particular facets of them. Fennel finds th at Material culture thus functions in varying contexts as a primary medium for cr eating, confirming, or modifying cultural beliefs and pr actices (2007:38). I will return to this discussion of the active role of individuals in a later chapter concerned w ith artifact analysis. Concerning archaeologists ability to access the expressive intentions of past social actors, Fennel has written that While the spoken words of past social interactions may be lost to us, the archaeological record often shows persistent patterns of material forms of symbolic expressions th at can be interpreted in the context of one or more past cultural traditions and associated meanings (2007:30). There is no question of whether individuals abducted into slaver y and subjected to the horrors of the Middle Passage and captivity in the Americas could have retained any of their cultural beliefs and practices. That they did, and in what manner they mana ged to express these beliefs and practices and by way of these their identities, may be recovered by archaeologists. Fennel suggests that persuasive inte rpretations and explanations can be formulated when supported by multiple lines of evidence addressing the attributes and context of the material culture in question (2007:30). This thes is is an endeavor concerned with Muslim ideology and cosmology and the materiality of the expressions of these values which survives in the archaeo logical record. Drawing on the documentary record as a body of supporting eviden ce, it will examine and reexamine the archaeological record to assert the presen ce of expressions of Muslim identity among
26 enslaved Africans and African-Americans in the Americas. In the next chapter I will explore the archaeology of Islam to provide a foundation for conceptions of the materiality of Muslim identity, as well as review the historical circumstances which account for the presence of a significant num ber of enslaved African Muslims in the Americas.
27 CHAPTER III: THE ARCHAEOL OGY OF ISLAM AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF AFRICAN MUSLIM ENSLAVEMENT A discussion of the material evidence of the enslaved African Muslim presence and continued religious practice in the Am ericas requires an understanding of the materiality of Muslim identity. This chap ter will present some key elements of the archaeology of Islam, as well as provide insights on how Muslim belief might appear in the archaeological record and some exampl es of how people observed their faith and articulated their identity in captive situations It will also offer an outline of historical events which resulted in the presence of numerous enslaved Muslims in the Americas, and suggest possible consequences of the su rvival of African Islam beyond the Middle Passage. I propose here that the historians understanding does not seem to have influenced archaeology in the U.S.A. It also appears absent from popular histories about enslaved African Americans. Borrowing the words of Timothy Insoll, I offer that The archaeology of Islam is here foregrounded because, as in other forms of historical archaeology, there is the possibility that what we can learn from mate rial culture not only complements and supplements the historical record, but also may contradict what we think we know from history (2003:3). Th e archaeology of the Af rican experience in Diaspora, and as affected by colonialist e ndeavors on both sides of the Atlantic, may benefit from the insights of the archaeology of Islam and an acknowledgement of known historical circumstances. A consideration of the archaeology of Is lam, perhaps at its very inception, would be misguided were it to concei ve of itself as the archaeologi cal study of a fixed religious tradition. First and foremost, it should be clea r that the conception of Islam around which this argument is raised is one of indisputable diversity practiced by individual Muslims
28 having unique experiences the world over. Yet for all this diversity, it has been noted that the remarkable thing is the extent to wh ich Muslim societies resemble each other (Insoll 1999:11). Moreover, there is something to be said for a clear understanding of the notion of Islam as it is treated here. Timothy Insoll writes that, in the case of Islam, all facets of life can be structured by religion, and thus to separate out the religious element as something confined to a specific part or element of an individuals life is wrong (1999:8). In so many words, the archaeology of Islam is not a simple matter. This is in no small part due to the fact that conceiving of Islam is not simple by nature. As Carl Ernst so wonderfully put it, Although it is co mmon to hear people say, for example, Christianity says that or according to Islam, the only thing that can be observed or demonstrated is that individual people who call themselves Christians or Muslims have particular positions and practices that th ey observe and defend. No one, however, has ever seen Christianity or Islam do anything. Th ey are abstractions, not actors comparable to human beings (2003:51). The Islam that I treat here is one which may structure all facets of life, and in this way may guide individual Muslims particular positions and practices. Envisioning an archaeology of Islam in the Americas In the following discussion I am concer ned largely with identifying materiality relevant to the central argume nt and do not intend to provi de a historical overview of Islam, which has been successfully accomp lished multiple times by others elsewhere (Berkey 2003, Ernst 2003). Though it is unifi ed by key elements, there is no single Muslim style. The essential doctrines of Islam might have been largely established in the
29 seventh century CE, and detailed ritual practices developed between the seventh and ninth centuries CE, Insoll writes, but Isla m itself is not a fossilized entity; Islamic material culture in all its forms was not fixed at that time (1999:15). What are some of these key elements? Some are prominently evident architecturally, both in the public and private sphere. Others are thought of better in terms of personal possession. A focus on personal practic es will be most useful for the present discussion, since there are only a few known cases of organized Muslim practice early in the Americas. One general category of evid ence that would indicat e the presence of Muslim practice is that produced by recognition of the Five Pillars. As outlined in Chapter Two, the Five Pillars are the shahadah (profession of faith), salat (prayer), zakat (almsgiving), Ramadan (fasting), and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca if one has the means). Evidence in the archaeological record for some of these seems unlikely, almost impossible. Each w ill be treated individually below. Timothy Insoll has made useful suggestions as to the archaeological ev idence indicating the observance of each of the Five Pillars. He proposes that they could include, for the shahadah (credo), inscriptions in many different media; salat by the mosque and other places of prayer; alms-giving by inscripti ons and through the system of endowments ( waqf ) by pious and wealthy individuals of bu ildings such as hospitals, mosques, religious schools, etc; hajj by pilgrims hostels, routes, wells, milestones, etc. It is only sawn that will be unlikely to be re cognized archaeologically (2003:13). Despite the improbability of sawm (fasting) being recogni zable archaeologically, adherence to some Muslim pros criptions concerning diet may be identifiable with the aid of zooarchaeological evidence. For in stance, pork and alcohol are both haraam
30 (forbidden) in Islam. It is true that enslaved men and wo men often had little, if any, control over the food which they received. Pork was the preferred meat by planters for their laborers since it was ch eap and pigs were easy to keep (Diouf 1998:88). And yet, some slave owners made exceptions. This is documented by Charles Joyner (1986:171), who finds that some lowcountry planters subs tituted a ration of beef for pork for their Muslim slaves. Regrettably, Joyner does not offer details. The plantation books of William Ball of South Carolina show that an enslaved Muslim named Nero drew his ration in beef instead of pork (Diouf 1998:88). Sylvaine Diouf relates that an enslaved Muslim from Mali spoke for many others when he lamented to a merchant in Mississippi in terms of bitter regret, that his situation as a slave in America, prevents him from obeyi ng the dictates of his religion. He is under the necessity of eating pork, but denies ev er tasting any kind of spirits (1998:88). It seems it would have been much easier to honor the prescription agai nst alcohol than the one against pork. Unfortunately, an absence of bottle-glass in slav e dwellings does not infer an absence of alcohol consum ption, much less a Muslim presence. In some circumstances, slaveholders had no choice but to honor the dietary demands made by their captives. Diouf rela tes just such an occurrence, where the rejection of pork by the ensl aved population in the Fren ch West Indies rose to insurmountable proportions. In 1672 Mr. de B aas, governor of the islands, wrote This people cannot see any longer how to feed the slaves for bacon is their aversion and they eat it only through force, which Diouf can find no reason for apart from religious taboo, since pork is widely consumed in Africa by Christians and other non-Muslims (1998:88). The ability of an enslaved Muslim to honor traditional dietar y proscriptions would
31 not always have been wholly constrained by the leniency of slaveowners. Depending on the locale, enslaved men and women were re quired obtain wild game and cultivate a small garden. Though it allotted even more labor to an enslaved person, it offered an avenue by which a number of Muslims could have maintained a permissible Islamic diet. There are no references to the diets of the enslaved Muslims whose stories are related in the next chapter (Ibrahima, Bilali, Omar i bn Said), and others, but according to his biographer Job ben Solomon adhered to Qurani c dietary rules, since he has no scruple about fish; but wont touch a bit of pork, it being expressly forb idden by their law (Diouf 1998:88). Inferences about alcohol consump tion may be impossible based on the archaeological evidence, however, evidence fo r the consumption or avoidance of pork may be more feasible. In circumstances wher e significant faunal remains are recovered in a context of African Americ an enslavement and pig bones are entirely lacking, the absence may reasonably be considered signifi cant. It should certainly be considered potentially meaningful if it is corroborated by other material evidence indicating a Muslim presence, or direct documentary eviden ce linking Muslim indivi duals to the site. In lieu of further discussion con cerning how upholding the Five Pillars or honoring proscriptions might appear materially I proceed with a discussion of how they were upheld by a strictly controlled population, in a foreign land. Sufficient records document religious practice by enslaved Mus lims in the Americas (Bastide 2007, Georgia Writers Project 1940), and rather than ente rtain the purely theoretical by considering undocumented practice, it seems more cons tructive to consider the reality.
32 First the shahadah, how was it upheld? Enslaved Muslims were predominantly literate (Diouf 1998:107), and thus had an advantage over their fellow illiterate enslaved Africans. Diouf provides two examples. Omar ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim from Senegal who ended up in North Carolina whose experience will later be discussed in full, has left testimonies of his faith in nume rous manuscripts in Arabic(1998:50). He was not alone. And although interest in converting slaves to Christianity was widespread, it was not always necessary to be silent about ones faith. Of Ben-Ali, or Bilali Mohamed, a Guinean Pulo who became something of a cel ebrity in the Sea Islands of Georgia, it is said that he remained a devout Mus lim all his life and died uttering the shahada (1998: 50). S alat or prayer has some of the greatest potential to be evident archaeologically, but in some ways would have been quite di fficult to uphold. Because prayer should occur five times a day, a slave would likely have had to find ways to pray in secret, or gain permission from his/her master to do so, si nce pausing to perform ablutions and the prayers themselves would have required br eaks in a slaves work day. This time lost would not benefit a slave owner. Diouf has pointed out that Though it considers prayer a pillar, the Koran is flexible, and a believe r is allowed to abstain from praying if circumstances are not favorable. Understandably, then, the Muslims who prayed did so by choice, not by obligation (1998: 59). At the same time it should be noted that just as enslaved Africans had to adapt to their new environments in many other ways, they also had to adapt their religious practices. Since the saying of prayers five times a day would have been difficult to achieve, especially w ithout encountering some level of controversy,
33 Muslims likely adapted their practice to the time limits imposed on them. This is evident in the documented cases from Brazil and the Georgia Sea Islands noted below. Prayer has such a great potential to be evident archaeologically because it required material objects for its practice. Diouf states, for exam ple, that it requires a mat, prayer beads, and a veil for women (1998: 59). Prayer beads are of ten used, but are not necessary for the five daily prayers. Mats or rugs used for prayer may come in a variety of forms, likely as varied as the circumst ances and personalities of Muslims across the globe. Though use of woven rugs is traditio nal and widespread, practitioners who found themselves enslaved in the Americas and w ith meager or nonexistent economic capital could have employed pieces of cloth. Among a group practicing prayer together in Brazil, animal skin prayer mats were used, and after the group completed ablutions they put on white garments, covered their heads, each t ook a rosary made of one hundred big beads, and prayed (1998: 62).2 This brings the discussion to prayer b eads, a frequent material accompaniment to the Muslim practice of prayer. The descrip tions of Islamic prayer beads are many and varied. They commonly consist of ninety-nine beads, and can be constructed using any number of different materials. Diouf identifies them as Resembling a Catholic rosary, it is made of round beads and has an elongated bead in lieu of a cross, and indicates that they have been known to have been worn both around the waist and neck (1998:63). I have noted that Brazilians were documente d as using strands of one hundred beads. Further details are not provided. Since th e typical number of 99 is meaningful 2 There is no information concerning the provenance of the prayer beads, at least in the United States. The Muslims may have made them themselves, with beads found locally. The prayer beads also may have come from afar. The Brazilian Muslims imported theirs, called tecebas from the coast of West Africa even into the twentieth century (Diouf 1998:63-64).
34 (representing the 99 beautiful na mes of Allah), a different count of 100 might seem cause for concern. I posit that this is not the case. Dioufs mention of an elongated bead in lieu of a cross resembles the form of mala b eads used for Buddhist and Hindu meditation practices. Mala beads often number 108, requi ring the recitation of 108 mantras, but include one large head bead to assist the pr actitioner in keeping tr ack of the number of recitations performed, bringing the count of a mala to 109. One possibility is that prayer beads with a count of 100, especially if an elongated bead is employed, may have served an identical purpose. Diouf notes that both the Brazilian community and the Georgian Sea Island communities used the long rosary made of one hundred beads, as opposed to the regular one that has thirty-three beads, and states, Anybody can use the long rosary, but men and women who belong to Sufi order and do dhikr (incantatory formulas that may consist of the repetition of certain names of God or Quranic excerpts) use it systematically (1998:64). Diouf sees this as evidence for the pr esence of deeply involved religious practitioners. Rather than insisting on the presence of uniquely de vout or particularly zealous Muslims, I consider this explanation possible but would also accept another if only one takes time to recognize the religious climate out of which practitioners came. Particular Sufi orders were prevalent in We st Africa at the time large numbers of people were being enslaved and taken from the region. This does not require that those enslaved necessarily belonged to Sufi br otherhoods, but it is reasonable to assume that the styles of prayer beads in popular use were influenced by the style preferred by a prevalent Sufi order.
35 The third pillar is the giving of alms. For some, it might be difficult to imagine enslaved Muslims in the Americas, those in need themselves, setting aside something in order to uphold this pillar, in order to give alms. But give they did. In the Georgia Sea Islands and in Brazil, there are accounts, recounted by descendents and others, of enslaved women making rice cakes, giving them to childre n, and saying a prayer over them. The Sea Islands saraka and the Brazilian saka are the exact transposition to America of an African Muslim custom. The rice ball is the traditional charity given by West African women on Friday. The testim onies from the Sea Islands refer to one distribution a month or a year which indicates a lack of means in no way surprising (Diouf 1998: 65). Fasting is difficult to see in the archae ological record, and at present I have no suggestions for identifying it. Records make it clear, however, that it did occur, and this will be discussed in a later chapter. On the other hand, there are indications that hajj, or pilgrimage was recognized and honored. Some individuals, such as Omar ibn Said, had made their pilgrimage to Mecca before they we re taken from West Af rica. Others did not have the opportunity. Enslaved Muslims who banded together found ways of honoring this pillar of their faith, though they lacked the means to fulfill the journey. These examples, also part of the documentary record, will be treated at length later. Diouf claims That African Muslims kept their faith is not exceptional. What is, is the fact that they had the will to follow rite s that were difficult to live by, and that they retained them in the most orthodox manner (1998:69). The examples provided above are not abstract ideas about how i ndividual Muslims might have ke pt alive the traditions of their faith. They are not mere hypotheses a bout the way the acts of Muslim religious
36 practice could manifest materially while pract itioners endured the ha rdships of captivity. They are proof, writ large, of a story that sti ll goes untold in the retell ing of history. The archaeology of Islam, or the materi al evidence of Muslim practice, is not confined to expressions of adherence to the Five Pillars. A discussion of Muslim architecture is one of the key elements to a consideration of the arch aeology of Islam. At the center of any such discussion is the mosque. It is true that the mosque can be said to be the material embodiment of a fundamental as pect of Muslim life, that of prayer (Insoll 1999:58). The obligation of prayer is a visibl y significant part of Muslim belief. When upheld in its full and complete sense, it shapes the nature of ones life. Although as noted above, a captive situation w ould not have been the ideal. It is for this reason that I choose to treat the mosque separately, in addition to the fact that the mosque is perhaps the most recognizable and lasting feature of Islamic material culture. Conjure up a mosque in your mind: the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, the Sultan Ahmed (or Blue Mosque) in Istanbul, or al-Azhar in Cairo. World famous mosques, they each have certain features: minarets, prayer halls, qibla walls, mihrabs to name a few. Certain criteria mark them, causing them to stand apart from their environs. This is true (necessarily so) of all mosques, large and small. And yet it is not necessary for a mosque to be lavish, a behemoth of wood and stone, or even an average feat of architectural talent. Citing Hi llenbrand (1994), Timothy Insoll finds the criteria which define a mos que are forbiddingly si mple: a wall correctly oriented towards the qiblah namely the Black Stone within the Kabah in Mecca. No roof, no minimum size, no enclosing walls, no liturgical accessories are required (1999:28).
37 Various factors, such as architectural tradition, the building materials available, or the anticipated size of the congregati on, influence the form a mosque will take. Nonetheless, it should be apparent that mosque is not a limiting category. If mosques lack a fixed, or at the leas t rigidly defined form, this fact should change the way archaeologists view places of Muslim worship. Some of the earliest Muslim mos ques were not the enduring structures seen today. They were likely to be more ephemeral; in Basra in Iraq, for example, the first mosque founded c.635 was, depending on the source followed, either simply a marked-out prayer area on the ground, or an area enclosed with a reed-fence (Creswell in Insoll 1999:46). This type of temporary st ructure can easily become difficult if not impossible to locate archaeologically. The Su rvey of the Negev Highlands (Avni 1994 and Rosen 1987) discovered dozens of settlement s dating to the end of the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (6th-8th centuries C.E). Structures inte rpreted as early mosques were found adjacent to several of the sites, and fe w appear to have had roofs. Most are low rectangular or square stone en closures which face south, with a slight eastward angle, and a protruding mihrab (prayer niche) visible in the southern wall (Avni 1994:84). These structures may only be known th rough the documentary record. It is true that the written record left behind is more often than not one-sided, shaped by the struggle between the powerful and the powerle ss. And yet, if archaeologists were to ignore the surviving documents correspondi ng to the times they study, they would undoubtedly lose a valuable resource. In this case, it would negate the possibility of finding such mosques.
38 It is evident then that in order for ar chaeologists to identify such a fundamental expression of Muslim life, presence, or practic e as the mosque, they need to expand their framework. The archaeology of Islam needs to take into account the mutability of the mosque, of sacred space. Armed with the knowledge that humans are capable of constructing their own sacred space, possibilities of interpretation proliferate. Archaeologists can then come closer to loca ting the material evidence of such sacred places, and acquiring a reasonable understanding of past. Islam in West Africa: conflict, enslavement, and deportation Now that some background has been provided on the archaeology of Islam in the Americas, a brief discussion of the historical events which resulted in the presence of enslaved Muslims arriving in the Americas is in order. I rely largely on Sylvaine Dioufs (1998) Servants of Allah: African Mus lims Enslaved in the Americas She tells the story of African Muslims caught in the politico-religious wars in Futa Toro, Bundu, Kayor, Futa Jallon, the northwest part of the Gold Coast, northern Dahomey, and central Sudan, and their ability to overcome obstacles and main tain and express their faith in the hostile environment of captivity in the Americas. Out of this discussion both a greater sense of the early enslaved Muslim presence in America and the particularities associated with the archaeology of Islam practiced by Af ricans in the Diaspora will develop. In the beginning of the fourteenth centur y, when the first Africans were shipped to the New World, Islam was already well establis hed in West Africa. The religion spread rapidly, introduced to North Africans as early as 660, and thanks to merchants from the north, it was known south of the Sahara since the eighth century (Diouf 1998:4).
39 Islam was not immediately adopted on a large-scale. The religion was taken up by individuals, and sometimes incorporated with older traditions. In S ub-Saharan Africa for example, some features of traditional religions and customs were also present in Islam, such as the ritual immolation of animal s, circumcision, polygamy, communal prayers, divination, and amulet making (1998:4). Other factors aided the spread of Isla m. Sometimes expansion of and conversion to Islam resulted from the decisions made by the elite of West African kingdoms. For example, Sunni Islam started to spread after the conversion of two rulers at the beginning of the eleventh century. One was War Diaby, from Takrur in north ern Senegal, which became the first African Muslim state after applying the sharia or Islamic law, and the second was Kosoy from Gao in present-da y Mali (1998:4). The c onversion of rulers shaped the course of history for West African Muslims in y ears to come. Elite support of Islam increased its popularity, and in additi on, this caused it to become part of the identity of the kingdoms and their people, defining them in opposition to their nonMuslim neighbors. Islam continued to expand, from the banks of the Senegal River in the west to the shores of Lake Chad in the east (for map of major states see Figure 3.1), while Malian traders and clerics introduced it to northern Nigeria, where the Muslims became known as Mal or people coming from Mali in the four teenth century (1998:4). The spread of Islam in West Africa brought change. Mus lim traders brought with them new ideas, perspectives, and of course, goods. New ideas and commodities had a profound affect on West African life ways, the effects of which were significant for their later American enslavement, which will be discussed further below.
40 Fig. 3.1 Map of major states in West Africa in the 16th century (Fage 1969:29) Worthy of note is the fact that beginning in the fifteenth century, Islam in West Africa became associated with the Sufi orders. The Qadiriyah, founded by Qadir al Gilani who lived in Baghdad from 1078 to 1166, became the most extensive Sufi order in West Africa until the mid nineteenth century (1998:5). The Sufis st ressed the personal dimension of the relationship between Allah and man, as embodied in the surah 2:115: Wherever you turn, there is Allahs Face (1998:5). This personal dimension of religious practice should also be recognized as a feature of possibl e significance during consideration of the material record. Islam having been firmly established as an influential force in the region, it played a hand in shaping the results of the Atlantic slave trade. The Muslim men, women, and children who were sold in the New World for three hundred and fifty years were victims of the general insecurity that the Atlantic sl ave trade and the politicoreligious conflicts in
41 West Africa fostered (1998:1). Abd ar-Rahman, w hose story I relate in a later chapter, is one of these. He was captured after the def eat of the Muslim Fulbe by the Jalunke in 1788. In 1790, an animist monarch attained the Kayor throne and attacked Muslims in both Kayor and the surrounding regions of Walo, Baol, and Jolof, killing or selling many to Europeans (Diouf 1998:28). Conflicts between Muslim and non-Mus lim polities directly led to the enslavement of large numbers of West Africans. Not long after a regular slave trade between Africa and the Americas had been esta blished just such a conflict led to the enslavement of large numbers of Sengalese. Diouf relates that the sequence of events started in the Jolof Empire, founded in the thirteenth century by a Muslim dynasty originally from Walo on the Se negal River; the empire exte nded over most of what is today Senegal, and that among the Sengalese enslaved, many were Muslim (1998:19). Under Islamic law, one Muslim may not enslave another. This does not mean, however, that Muslims who were enslaved were previously unfamiliar with slavery. Slavery for a Muslim is lawful in one of two ways, either the person must be born of slave parents, or if they had been prisoners of war, the captives could be made slaves if they were pagans, though they might have been offered the chance to convert (1998:10). The pattern of enslavement that developed appears to have been influenced by this law. Where Muslims were in power and prevailed in a conflict, there were no qualms about enslaving unbelievers, both for a profit and because slavery was, after all, more merciful than death. This is in line with Muslim prin ciples, the same prin ciples that deemed slavery acceptable due solely to the rationale that the enslaved were different. Slavery in Africa, just as in Europe was justified by slaves difference, though in Africa this would
42 be a difference in religion observed or becau se one belonged to a different ethnic group, not a difference of skin color (1998:16). Two additional points are worthy of note. First, slavery in Africa should not be construed as having been identical to slavery in the Americas. The difference in distance traveled once enslaved, length of enslavement, and relationship of enslaver and en slaved differed. In addition, it cannot be said that African Muslims were never guilty of selling their co religionists. For example, civil wars in nineteenth-century central Sudan resulted in the sale of many Muslims by other Muslims to the Americas (1998:12). It should be no surprise given the outlin ed pattern of enslavement when Diouf writes that Every conflict that led to the disintegration of Jolof sent Muslim Wolof, Mandingo, Tukulor, and Fulani to Mexico, Peru, Colombia, a nd Hispaniola(1998:20). In this way the population of the Jolof empi re found itself providing the manpower for development in the Americas. Enslavement and deportation-causing conf licts were not limited to the Jolof empire. Another significant hist oric event or chain of events with similar results began with the ambitions of a Muslim who was inte rested in furthering the Islamic faith, but perhaps more importantly in restoring the stat e of things which the slave trade and other trans-Atlanctic commerce had disrupted, t hough he had no qualms with the selling of infidels. This, Diouf relates, was the so-called marabouts war, or Tubenan (from the Arabic and Wolof tuub, to convert to Islam) revolution, led by Nasir al-Din, a berber marabout from Mauritania who belonged to th e Qadiriyiah brother hood, who launched a jihad that reached Senegal in 1673 (1998:20). Part of such a widespread Sufi order, al-
43 Dins jihad likely would have garnered signi ficant support. It did not however, prove to be enough. After Nasir al-Dins death, just a year after his jihad began, the French succeeded in defeating the movement by playing on in ternal divisions (1998: 21). As should be expected, this defeat sent numerous Muslim s to the New World, benefiting the French and the non-Muslim kingdoms against which the marabouts had struggled. The marabouts that remained went to Bundu, which in 1690 became the second Muslim theocracy in West Africa, owi ng to a movement there inspir ed by Nasir al-Din (1998:22). Conflicts in the region continued, and the young theocracy suffered the same problems as the Jolof empire. Struggles in Bundu resulted in the enslavement of a large number of Muslims, among them was Ayuba Suleyman Di allo, an individual who was later known by the name Job Ben Solomon and was enslaved in 1731. He found himself on a plantation in Maryland, but arri ved back in Africa by 1734 after a ransom was paid for him (1998:22,11). Many more battles, over the course of the next century, resulted in the transportation of Muslims to the Americas, individually or en masse. Some of these events, taken from Dioufs research, are summarized in the timeline in Figure 3.2. Throughout the eighteenth-century in Se negambia and Guinea, Diouf writes, Muslim movements and theocracies were asso ciated with the fight against old regimes that had reinforced their power by sel ling men and women to the Europeansthe movements appealed to the mass of peasants who were the main victims of the slave tradeand these theocracies became havens not only for Muslims but for the nonMuslims who accepted their protection (1998:30).
44 1730s The ruler of Kayor and Baol refused to sell slaves and to trade his goods for alcohol, angering the French. After his death a quarrel over succession leads to a series of civil wars that led to a massive deportation of Wolof 1775 OHara, French governor of St. Louis aided attacks on Walo, which had threatened to cut St. Louis off from U pper Senegal. The kingdom is destroyed, and eight thousand captives are taken and shipped to the West Indies 1788 A contingent of several thousand from the kingdom of Futa Jallon is sent to fight a population that destroyed vessels from the coast and prevented trade between that region and Europeans. Among them is Ibrhamima abd al Rahman, son of Futa Jallons ruler. He is captured with others and sold to the English, ending up in New Orleans. He spends his life ensl aved in America. Thanks to stories and his nickname Prince, he gains notoriety 1790 An animist monarch attains the Kayor th rone and attacks Muslims in both Kayor and surrounding regions of Walo, Baol, a nd Jolof. Many are killed or sold to Europeans 1804 After trade is interrupted, the French send twelve boats from Saint-Louis to burn a dozen villages, taking 6 00 prisoners, the majority of whom belonged to the ruling class 1804 Conflict in the Gold Coast (Ghana) p itted the Muslims ag ainst the fetishist Ashanti after the asantehene Osei Kwame had been chased from power and strangled in 1803 because it was feared he would establish the Koranic law for the civil code of the empire 1804 Heavy losseS are suffered by the followers of Usman dan Fodio who launched a jihad against the rulers of Hausaland due to their unorthodox practices, Of the surviving men on both sides of the conflic t large numbers ended their life in Brazil, Trinidad, and Cuba 1807 Related actions to those of the French in 1804 in the same area probably led to the capture of Omar ibn Said, a scholar, warrior of the faith, and trader from Futa who was shipped to the United States Fig.3.2 Timeline of West African conflicts re sulting in Muslim enslavement (1998:24-33) It should be evident from the sources on which I have drawn that some scholars interested in the slave trade and slave religion have a firm understanding of the political turmoil of West Africa during the period of transatlantic trade. They also understand Islam as a key influence, and the actions of individual Muslims in the events which resulted in the enslavement and deportation of large numbe rs of West Africans, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. It is surprising, ther efore, that the arch aeological scholarship
45 concerned with elucidating further the people who were enslaved in the Americas seems to have been little influenced by and hardly interested in th ese details. There is no doubt that there is significant progress toward the scientific study of Africans in the Diaspora (see Ogundiran and Falola 2007) taken as a hist oric group, and their cu lture via analysis of excavated material remains attributed to them. Additionall y, these studies are periodically concerned with the expression of religious or spiritual practices in the archaeological record that may be deemed A frican. And yet, during examination of the artifacts and other remains the influence of Islam which by its observance (as seen above) in many ways shapes ones life beyond what researchers would typi cally categorize as spiritual practice, goes unacknowledged. Muslim and enslaved: consequen ces for the captive experience Insofar as individuals are products of th eir place and time, t hose enslaved in the Americas were directly affected by the histor ical events related above. Again, Carl Ernst (2003:18), estimates that as many as fifteen percent of the enslaved population may have been Muslim. Michael Gomez estimates that of the 481,000 Africans who came to British North America during the slave trade, nearly 230,000 came from areas influenced by Islam, finding it reasonable to conclude th at Muslims may have come to America by the thousands, if not tens of thousands (1998:66). If a significant number of these people were Muslims, Islam should be seen as a key influence in the creation of African American identity. Recognizi ng just one key influence in the lives of these people enslaved in America, I pose a question: as Muslims, what might they have taken with them? What legacies would not have been lost to the Middle Passage?
46 I recognize that answers to this question could easily prompt unnatural generalizations about people who would have come from different places, had different languages, and different traditions. Insoll writes that Islam in Africa is African Islam, albeit of diverse character, and this is reflec ted in the archaeology (2003: 6). In light of diverse circumstances and the diverse character of African Islam I suggest two examples as historic similarities, that of a religion as a life-shaping force and literacy. Previously I have acknowledged the notion that Islam is not just a religion, it is a way of life. My suggestion of religion as a life-shaping force stems directly from an argument made by Timothy Insoll (1999) in Archaeology of Islam He proposes that Religion as a guiding force in all aspects of life has been forgo tten, and subsequently Western archaeologists, influenced by the prevailing social climate no matter how much they like to think of themselves as neutral observers, have likewise reflected this absence of an overall spiritual structure within their interpretations (1999:9) At first glace this statement might indicate a precarious scholarly pos ition, one that perceives a romanticized, more religiously devout and mo ral other in contrast to the modernized, scientific and perhaps cynic academic. Yet thos e from the Jolof Empire, the supporters of Nasir al-Din and later the th eocracy of Bundu, those from Futa Jallon, and others who were later enslaved lived in a world wher e ones religious identity was more than a negligible difference. The significance of that difference was a cause for war and death or of a lifetime of enslavement. Understanding what people brought with them to the condition of captivity can help inform explanations of how they reacted to that condi tion. The consequences of the factor of religion as a life-shaping force w ould have been significant. Consider the
47 following. All slaves living in Spanish lands were forcibly baptized. Senegambians brought to Spain were thus baptized and became considered Christians and called ladinos, and were among the first Africans to be introduced into the New World, as early as 1501 (Diouf 1998: 17). Forced ba ptism can hardly be thought to lead to committed conversions. It is reasonable to co nclude that Africans who were considered Christian after forced baptism ma y well not have been Christian. Consider another curi ous fact that Diouf relates. W ithin fifty years, five decrees were passed to forbid the importation of African Muslims to the Spanish colonies. Why would it have been necessary to reiterate the same point in new legislation once a decade, if not more frequently? Perhap s the legislation was not heeded. This is exactly the conclusion the author reaches, noting that p ersistent reissuing of the prohibition shows that Muslims nevertheless continued to be imported and to cause concerns and problems, and that as a result colonists cl aimed that the Muslims incited the other nations to rebellion, and it wa s feared that they would ta ke Islam to the Indians (1998:18). The significance of the implications of thes e few facts is of considerable interest. First, the nature of the information highlight s the fact that surviv ing reports concerning enslaved Muslims comes from the writing of pr iests. This is evident in the concern that Muslims would take Islam to the Indians which may have made it more difficult for priests to later convince them of the verity of Catholicism. Successful conversion of enslaved Africans and what are here referred to as Indians would have been of great consequence, since the work of missionaries was used as a primary justification for enslavement. In addition, it makes it clear th at Muslims commonly resisted conversion.
48 Some accounts, such as those chronicling the story of Omar ibn Said, related in a later chapter, claim an enslaved Muslims conversion to Christianity. There are also accounts of what appear to have been possibl e conversion, and then there are accounts of obvious pseudo-conversion, wherein it seems an individual appeared to have converted, but subsequently reverted to Islamic practi ce or had only ever given the pretense of abandoning it. It is here again that an exam ination of contemporary legislation and the accounts of priests are informative. For example, in Brazil, following a Mu slim revolt of 1835, masters were allotted six months time before which they would be fined for each non-Christian slave they owned (Christian status being measured by ba ptism and some religi ous education having been provided) (1998:53).3 Circumstances such as these would have been easily accommodated by acts of pseudo-conversion, one method of coping with the conditions of captivity. One could easily receive the baptismal rite and be instructed on the basic tenets of Christianity and remain a pract icing Muslim unbeknownst to those in power. Giving the pretense of having been convert ed was not without its benefits. Pseudoconverts would have been relieved of the pressure and attention placed on those who refused to convert, affording them some meas ure of freedom or additional privileges. In response to complaints by priests of the rarity of Muslim conversion, Diouf writes that On the Africans part it is worth noting that, as wa s and still is the case in Africa, the peoples who followed traditional religions were more willing than the Muslims to convert (1998:52). This by no mean s denies the possibility that individuals subscribing to other traditions could not have also chosen strategies of pseudo3 Diouf offers no details or citations. Bastide (1978) mentions multiple revolts instigated by Muslims, the most well-known being that of 1835.
49 conversion, adopting the outward signs of the imposed religion or incorporating features of that religion that seemed useful into their practice, effectively modifying but not abandoning their religious be liefs or identities. Finding themselves a minorit y, both religious and ethnic in the Americas and in enslaved communities, West African Mus lims did not succumb to acculturation but strove hard to maintain their traditions, soci al values, customs, and particular identity (Diouf 1998:3). In effect, they carried with them Islam as a life-shaping force. The other significant factor which many Muslims had in common which they would have carried with them was literacy. How common would literacy have been? At the end of the nineteenth century the French estimated that 60 percent of all Senegalese were literate in Arabic, while French and British colonial admini strators reported the number of Quranic schools in Futa Jallon a nd Nigeria as three t housand and twenty-five thousand respectively, and in turn it is belie ved that hundreds of thousands of literate West African Muslims ended their lives as slaves in the Americas (Diouf 1998:8). The implications of literacy in a captive situation are extens ive, allowing those literate and in captivity a si gnificant advantage over those who are illiterate. The advantage is of a greater magnit ude if one if able to use th is ability to communicate with others in ones captive communit y, however this is not exclusively the case. Literacy can play a role both in the co mmunication of a community, bot h in coping and for covert planning required for a rebe llion, or communication of pe rsonal value, where the enslaved scholar Omar ibn Said penned his autobiography in the pur suit of his freedom. Of additional interest here, since the records which survive or simply the ones historians have chosen to focus on of ensl aved Muslim individuals are of men, including
50 those identified as scholars or sons of kings, is the literacy of peasants and girls. Contrary to the situation in Europe at the time is th e state of affairs expressed by Lamine Kebe, a former Quranic teacher enslaved in the Un ited States, who made a point of mentioning that he had a few girls (7 per cent) in his school in Futa Ja llon (Guinea) and that his own aunt was much more learned than himself. (1998:7). These two examples, religion as a lifeshaping force and literacy are by no means the only commonalities that could have survived the Middle Passage and affected the experience of those enslaved. It is simply ev ident that Muslims were unlikely to convert to Christianity, which would have made a significant minority of those enslaved practitioners of a tradi tion which has not received attenti on in the scholarship. It is also true that there are few personal accounts by Africans of their lives under slavery, but of those, a disproportionate numb er are by Muslims (1998:2). In this chapter I have provided an ove rview of the archaeology of Islam and the ways that continued Muslim pr actice has become evident in the Americas both materially and immaterially. I have outlined the historical circumstances of Islams spread in West Africa and in turn the results for West Af ricans (including numerous Muslims) of the volatile politico-religious clim ate in which Islam was a force. And finally I suggested the significance of particular comm on factors of which I have provided two examples that would have been of consequence for enslav ed Muslims reaction to and experience of captivity in the Americas. I consider these necessary in order to lay the groundwork for a larger argument, at the center of which is the assertion that the continued practice of Islam by Muslims enslaved in America is materially evident, that its presence is significant, and that it should be recognized in the archaeol ogical record at excavated
51 sites where Muslims lived and worked where that record is actively constructed via a recursive relationship where meaning is found both in the intuition of the archaeologist and the ground itself.
52 CHAPTER IV: THE POWER OF WORDS: STORIES OF ENSLAVED MUSLIMS IN THE AMERICAS The details of the lives of most African Muslims who found themselves enslaved in the Americas will never be known. It was a rarity for enslaved Africans and their descendents to be included in the written record beyond notations concerning their sale and purchase. Yet the stories of some enslav ed African Muslims were recorded and have managed to survive. Some wrote autobiographies perhaps in an effort to create a lasting record of their struggles or simply to gr asp their suffering through words. Others were taken to be remarkable by their captors or other members of society (often due to their literacy, but sometimes due to other circumstance s) and were either encouraged to relate their stories or were merely speculated about The resulting accounts are often a mix of firsthand knowledge and occasionally legend. Ne vertheless, they offer a glimpse into the nature of the enslaved African Muslim experience. In this chapter I will seek to provide portraits of indivi duals, drawing on the documentary record where others deemed thei r stories worthy of note. First I review some of the schools of thought which have characterized historical archaeology and outline the methodological framework which provides for the joint use of the documentary record and archaeological record, review the use of stories in historical archaeology, and then follow with individua l life stories. These small biographical sketches by no means provide the complete picture of the enslaved African Muslim experience in the Americas. The surviving documentary record, for example, seems to have nearly exclusively privileged men. Desp ite this, I adduce the following examination of the documents in the hope of emphasizing th e need to reexamine the record, to rethink
53 a study of the past which continues to ignore individuals and creates an unthinkable past (Trouillot 1995: 73). Historical Archaeology: Draw ing on the Documentary an d Archaeological Record When conceiving of the relationship between archaeology and history, from where does one embark? A review of historical archaeology may serve to shed light on this relationship. Generally, historical arch aeology is an archaeology which temporally and spatially coincides with the presence of a documentary record. This record is sometimes utilized as a resource in conjuncti on with the study of human behavior through material remains. As Kathleen Deagan notes, Documented information about past social, temporal, and economic variables allows investigation of the cultural processes that affect those variab les, and which are in turn affected by them. Furthermore, the simultaneous access by historic al archaeologists to both emic statements (documents) and etic statements (archaeological data) about conditions in the past allows the study of behavioral processes involved in human perception, and the manipulation and means of coping with the environment (1996:18). Since the 1960s, historical archaeology has been distinguished by various schools of thought. The first is evident in Ivor Nel Humes definition of historical archaeology as a handmaiden to history (Deagan 1996:23) It is also expressed by Barbara Little when she recognizes the supplementation function of historical ar chaeology. Historical supplementation is characterized by the idea that there is certain hi storical information which can only be retrieved through archaeo logy. This information, seen as a more objective than subjective written histories, can then enhance or even change traditional interpretations of social hist ory (Deagan 1996:24). Little wish es not to resurrect the idea
54 that archaeology is objective while histor y is subjective, but to emphasize that archaeology may provide altern ative questions and interpreta tions. She suggests that part of historical supplementation includes creati ng ways of writing about the past that do not rely on historical documents or documentary historians as final ar biters of meaningful or accurate history (1996:44). The familiar maxim History is written by the victor comes to mind. How then, in light of this imbalance, might the documentary and material record be combined effectively? I will return to this question below. Another aim of historical archaeology is the reconstruction of past life ways. Deagan recognizes the trend as in keeping w ith anthropological trad ition and practice, it is essentially similar to social history and to ethnography in that the focus of research is most often, although not always exclusively, on a particular time, pl ace, and society, and was paralleled by a methodological shift toward backyard archaeology, where emphasis was to be placed on the by-products of all aspects of behavior in the past, which were found most frequently in those locations where the behavior took place, namely the backyard (1996: 25). One of the results of this approach is the documentation of historically disenfranchi sed groups, which has provided alternative images of national identity from those pr ovided by dominant written history. This orientation opened up archaeologies interested in the pasts of women, blacks, workers, and others often neglected and subordinated by popular or conventi onal histories. Processual studies are an other avenue in historical archaeology. Their focus is often becomes general human beha viors or cultural processes. Deagan asserts that they providethe building blocks on which more general processual questions about human culture may be investigated (1996:26).
55 Two other models are those of archaeo logical science and cognitive archaeology. According to Deagan, histori cal archaeological studies conc erned with the former have attempted to demonstrate the ways in which cer tain sociocultural variables are manifested in the archaeological record, using documenta tion about the nature of these variables as controls (1996:30). Studies of contemporary so cieties may thus become relevant, in the interest of documenting the nature of fo rmerly undocumented or rarely documented variables. This is related to cognitive archaeo logy which is, as Deagan states, also based on the simultaneous observation of the spoken, written, observed, and preserved contexts of behavior, is the attempt to discover and define the mental structures and cognitive systems of people through ma terial culture (1996:32). After describing these pathways, Deagan suggests the following principles for historical archaeology: If historical archaeology is a scientific discipline, it should be concerned with developing general principles that can explain regularities and variability in human culture and behavior. If it is essentially an historical discipline, it should be concerned with studying and illuminating the attributes, events and processes of a particular time, place, and society; however, this does not preclude the use of scientific methods in the approach to these concerns. Finally, if historical archaeology is a humanistic discipline, it should impart an aesthetic appreciation of and an empathy with the human conditions of the past (1996:22). There are various methods for achieving these aims. Mark Leone and Parker P. Potter Jr. (1988) present a method, based on Le wis Binfords middle-range theory, which seeks to account for regularities and variabil ity in human behavior and the attributes and processes of particular times, places, and socie ties. Further, it may be combined with an effort to impart appreciation for or empat hy with the human conditions of the past. Historical archaeology has often succe ssfully combined the evidence of the documentary record and archaeological reco rd in tandem. Leone and Potter (1988)
56 discuss methods for utilizing the documentar y and archaeology records. They present two problematic ways of linking these forms of evidence and propose an improved method based on Binfords middle-range theory for ethnoarchaeology. Binford notes the difference between what would be predicted on the basis of ethnography and what is found archaeologically, and recognizes this difference or ambiguity as an important piece of knowledge, the value of which lies in the independence of each line of evidence (Leone and Potter 1988:13). Where previous ly one excavated and then used the documentary evidence to identify archaeologi cal finds or gleaned the story from the documents and then used archaeology to fill in the gaps, middle-range theory stresses the independence of each type of evidence rather than the dependence of one upon the other. Leone and Potter find that four parts of middle-range theory are partic ularly useful for historical archaeology: (1) the independen ce of the archaeological and documentary records, (2) the concept of ambi guity, (3) the use of descriptiv e grids, and (4) the idea of organizational behavior (1988:14). Treating the types of evidence as independent is important since the archaeological and documentary records are of ten created in differe nt contexts. Leone and Potter warn against treating them as de pendent which creates a connection between the two which would not have existed in the pa st, suggesting alternatively that if each is treated as independent one may move back and forth from one to the other, using each to extend the meaning of the other (1988:14). Leone and Potters method involves cr eating descriptive grids based on the documentary record against which the arch aeological record ma y be arrayed. Once a framework has been assembled and expectati ons of the archaeological record identified,
57 then the ambiguities which appear may be used to form a new set of questions about both records. In such an analysis, write Leone and Potter, organizat ional behavior, which can also be learned from the documentary reco rd, is the concept used to ascribe meaning to the ambiguities discovered through careful description and comparison (1988:14). In other words, identifying organizational behavior is a search for context, circumstance, or societal standard which would translate the ambiguity. The subsequent challenge, then, is to tell stories about the past following a process of sifting, of reevaluating the documentary and archaeological records effectively. Using Binfords middle-range th eory, Leone and Potters method provides a way to successfully navigate the connecti on between archaeology and history, advancing historical archaeology beyond supplementation, be yond being a handmaiden to history. Archaeology and storytelling With the recognition that ar chaeologists tell stories a bout the past, the use of storytelling itself has become widespread in archaeological writing. I think it pertinent to preface the biographical sketches to follow with an explanation of the use of storytelling in archaeology. The phenomenon is not excl usively found in historical archaeology, though the presence of the documentary record makes telling stories an easier task. The trend stemmed from a growing frustration with the inadequacy of traditional styles of archaeological writing. Often passive-voiced and object-specific, descriptions in the past frequently paid rapt attention to the potte ry sherds lifted from the ground but largely ignored the people who made them. Brian Faga n claims, We forget that all archaeology is the result of human behavior of people like ourselves (200 5:17). This sentiment is not new, but as it is increasing ly expressed, more archaeologists are taking new approaches.
58 One of these is Janet Spector. In her quest to relate more than a distanced and lifeless generation of the past, she developed a narrative about an epis ode in the life of a fictional young Wahpeton Dakota girl in order to relate her interpretation of the material record at a site and what it conveyed about the past (Spector:1993: 17). Spector overcame the longstanding fear of I and placed herself at the center of her interpretation instead of providing a passive-voiced authoritative te xt on her subject. The writing of authors who have taken up this style reveals recogni tion of biases and th eir rejection of the descriptions and interpretations of material in the past. It has also led to a more accurate archaeology. More accurate because it places a primacy on the living people whose actions archaeologists attempt to read in the material record. It is true, Spectors story about a Dakota girl, the awl sh e used for leatherwork, the m eanings of its markings, and how it could possibly have been lost, does not rank as one of the best pieces of literature of the late 20th century. Yet her experi ments with writing archaeo logy serve as a model for the betterment of the discourse. She conf ronts the male-centered status quo by writing about a young girl. As both a female and a child, the main character of her story represents two groups in human societies that are frequently written out of archaeological narratives. The focus of her writing is people, their lives, and their relationships to one another. To further understand the use of the story for historical archaeology, it is useful to consider Barbara Littles (2007) suggestions when she makes a distinction between a story and a plot. A story is series of ev ents. The audience for a story asks, And then? And then? as a story demands only curiosit y. On the other hand, a plot is based on causality and demands intelligen ce and memory, as the audien ce asks, Why? It is worth
59 considering that the story that only seeks to tug on universal emo tions doesnt need a why or a historically base d explanation of conflict or controversy (Little 2007:147). Sometimes historical archaeologists use stor ies to invoke the human presence in the material record. Sometimes they utilize what Li ttle differentiates as a plot. Below, as I offer life stories of enslaved African Muslims in the Americas, I seek to evoke more than curiosity. I endeavor to ask why, and I suggest that the reader do the same. In addition to being object-centered and failing to focus on human action and intentionality, another criticism of archaeological writing (the last I will relate here, though this is hardly a summary of the compla ints which have been lodged), is that its style is frequently not engaging, and filled with jargon. Both of these factors contribute to a writing of archaeology that effectively alienates any public audience it may have. For Mikhail Bakhtin, The speaker break s through the alien horizon of the listener, constructs his utterance on alien terr itory against his, the listeners, apperceptive background (quoted in Joyce 2002: 50). The words archaeologists choose must be chosen carefully, because they will be wei ghed by the reader. It is upon alien territory that an understanding of the past is constr ucted. Upon this potentia lly hostile territory unlike the archaeologists own, a story must be engaged in that can compliment or invalidate accepted histories. Before I turn to the relevant survivi ng documentary record for enslaved Muslims in America, it is important to note that bot h archaeological stories in the past, and the historical narratives drawn on below, often suffer from their single-voiced nature and their finality. Archaeologists mu st constantly be telling each other, employers, relevant stakeholders, or the world what they are doi ng. They tell them what they find and what
60 they think it means in site reports, conference papers, public lectures, and books, both popular and academic. However, Archaeolo gists, Rosemary Joyce writes, cannot escape the knowledge that they do not complete and encompass the material they study by making it the object of their regard (2002: 100). Joyce has criti qued archaeology as a discipline engaging in th e present in the constr uction of persuasive stories about imagined pasts (2002:2). I suggest that there is always more to tell, there is always more to learn, in this case from the archaeological record. All the excavation in the world would mean nothing if archaeology did not report and interp ret. As Deetz proposed, What is it that we do, and why do we do it? Simply put archaeologists are storytellers. It is our responsibility to communicate to as wide an audience as possible the results and significance of our findings (quoted in Joyce 2002:121). Archaeological writing can be incredibly consequential because it plays a role in the construction of understand ings of the past. What archaeologists say about other cultures is taken as particular ly believable (Joyce 2002:113). Particular conceptions of the past at different times have been used to subordinate groups of people and empower others. The voice archaeologists use matters b ecause it is taken as a voice of authority. They must recognize that authority as they engage in crafting stories about the past. I offer the following stories to augment my suggestions concerning the interpretation of the archaeo logical record, and, following Spector, relate more than a distanced and lifeless ge neration of the past. I rely on th e collection of stories that is Allan D. Austins (1984) African Muslims in Antebe llum America: A Sourcebook, and his 1996 condensation of that work. Austin says of African Muslims, like many of the first Africans in America, that Very few were a llowed to go to school, to own property, to
61 marry, to go to court, or to have their deat hs legally recorded or probated. Africans and their children in America have always been of interest, of course, as laboring property, as strangers, exotics, threats, a nd, in the Constitution, as disc ounted, disenfranchised persons each three-fifths of a white male used in yet another way to strengthen the voting power of slaveholders (1996:5). This is true of the individuals in the stories to follow. Most slaveholders, Austin writes, h ad to suppress manifestations of nonChristian religious practices that might be used to unite or dir ect their slaves. If necessary, they found some way to accommoda te the proudest people by recognizing and rewarding a supposedly exceptional slave with limited power over others. All masters had to oppose the distribution of letters in a language they could not read (1996:5). Austins point, then, is that those who did wr ite about these individua ls had to be careful about how much they told and to whom. Th is may indicate why so few documents are known, and account for the nature of those which survive. The scarcity of the documents may also be due to the low number of Muslims presumed to have become captive in Ameri ca. However, as stated previously, some scholars find it reasonable to conclude that Muslims may have come to America by the thousands, if not tens of thousands (Ernst 2003, Gomez 1998). The nature of the documents may not be id eal, yet I suggest they are useful to the archaeology of enslaved African America. Since they take th e form of stories, and not Littles (2007) plots, archaeo logists must not forget to se arch for causality and to ask, Why? of these stories. Nevertheless, they indicate that Islam should join the complex of identities over which archaeologists puzzle for enslaved African America and about which they ultimately craft new stories.
62 Omar ibn Said, Omeroh, or Prince Moro I begin with the story of Omar ibn Sa id (see photograph, Figu re 4.1), perhaps the most well-known African Muslim to be enslaved in the Americas, whether for the curiosity he aroused in life or the interest he has sparked in the scholarly wo rld. It is his story, in fact, which first insp ired this study. He was enslav ed and brought to America in 1807, in the waning days of the tr ans-Atlantic slave tr ade. Over the course of his life he penned various documents in Arabic which surv ive today. The most famous of these is an autobiography, today in the possession of the library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.4 Those that wrote about Omar ibn Said during and after his lifetime, such as journalist Calvin Leonard and Reverend Ma tthew B. Grier, remembered him as a gentleman and a scholar (Austin 1984:488, 499). It is these two traits that probably account for much of the legend surrounding him. Stories of Omar tell of royalty, of an Arab prince perhaps, suffering nobly in his unfortunate captivity. Allan D. Austin claims that The legend seems to be the product of a lengthy series of accretions, and an unwillingness to recognize civili zation in an African (1984:448). The letters and tales that survive almost universally reflect a prejudice, that an educated man, a literate and civilized man, could not really be an African, and if so, he must be a very exceptional one. The slave owners conscience was thus placated. Born on the south bank of the Senegal River in Futa Toro, he was not an Arabian, but an African, a swarthy, proud Tukulor Fula, and his portrait clearly reflects 4 Available as the Autobiography of Omar ibn Said, Slave in North Carolina, 1831. Ed. John Franklin Jameson. From The American Historical Review 30, No. 4. (July 1925), 787-795. Available as an internet resource through the North Carolina at Chapel Hills library, Documenting the American South collection.
63 Fig. 4.1 Photograph of Omar ibn Said (Ernst 2003:19) early descriptions of his hair, color, and phys iognomy as being distinctly of the African character(1984:447). And if not royalty who was this man who gained, in his time, so much notoriety in and around Charleston? He was, a scholar educated in Africa by Africans, a teacher, a trader, probably an aide to non-Muslim rulers, and when required perhaps a soldier (1984:447). In his own rough, Arabic words (translated by historian J. Franklin Jameson in 1925) he writes: In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. Thanks be to God, supreme in goodness an d kindness and grace, and who is worthy of all honor, who created all things for his service, even mans power of action and of speech. From Omar to Sheik Hunter
64 You asked me to write my life. I am not able to do this because I have much forgotten my ow n, as well as the Arabic language. Neither can I write very grammatically or according to the true idiom. And so, my brother, I beg you, in Gods name not to blame me, for I am a man of weak eyes, and of a weak body. My name is Omar ibn Seid. My birthplace was Fut Tr, between the two rivers. I sought knowledge under the instruction of a Sheikh called Mohammed Seid, my ow n brother, and Sheikh Soleiman Kembeh, and Sheikh Gabriel Abdal. I continued my studies twenty-five years, and then returned to my home where I remained six years. Then there came to our place a large army who killed many men, and took me, and brought me to the great sea, and sold me into the hands of the Christians, who bound me and sent me on board a great ship and we sailed upon the great sea a month and a half, when we came to a place called Charleston in the Christian language. There they sold me to a small, weak, and wicked man, called Johnson, a complete infidel, who had no fear of God at all. Now I am a small man, and unable to do hard work so I fled from the hand of Johnson and after a month came to a place called Fayd-il (the town of Fayetteville, North Carolina [Austin 1984:450]). There I saw some great houses (churches). On the new moon I went into a church to pray. A lad saw me and rode off to the place of his father and informed him that he had seen a black man in the church. A man named Handah (Hunter?) and another man with him on horse-back, came attended by a troop of dogs. They took me and made me go with them twelve miles to a place called Fayd-il, where they put me into a great house from which I could not go out. I continued in the great house (which, in the Christian language, they called jail) sixteen days and nights. One Friday the jailor came and opened the door of the house and I saw a great many men, all Christians, some of whom called out to me, What is your name? Is it Omar or Seid? I did not understand their Christian language. A man called Bob Mumford took me and led me out of the jail, and I was very well pleased to go with them to thei r place. I stayed at Mumfords four days and nights, and then a man named Jim Owen, son-in-law of Mumford, having married his daughter Betsey, asked if I was willing to go to a place called Bladen. I said Yes, I was willing. I went with them, and have remained in the place of Jim Owen until now(Austin 1984: 465,466). Before I came to the Christian country, my religion was the religion of Mohammed, the Apostle of God may God have mercy upon him and give him peace. I walked to the mosque before daybreak, washed my face and head and hands and feet. I prayed at noon, prayed in the afternoon, prayed at sunset, prayed in the evening. I gave alms every year, gold, silver, seeds, cattle, sheep, goats, rice, wheat, and barley. I gave tithes of all the above-named things. I went ever year to the holy war against the infidels. I went on pilgrimage to Mecca, as did all who were able. My father had six sons and five daughters, and my mother had three sons and one daughter. When I left my country I was thirty-seven years old; I have been in the country of the Christians twenty-four years. Written A.D. 1831 (1984:466, 517). This is not the extent of the manuscript. Omar opens his story with passages from the Quran, and includes subs tantial praise for Jim Owen and his family, acknowledging
65 their beneficent behavior toward him. Over the years which he abided with the Owen family, until his death in 1864, he was often re marked upon by visitors. A Bible in Arabic was acquired for his use. He eventually enga ged in a campaign to send such Bibles to West Africa in cooperation with another Afri can Muslim of some renown, Lamine Kaba, or Lamen Kebe, however, Umar b. Said c ontinued to implore th e help of Allah and the prophet Muhammad with invocations found ev en within the margins of his Christian Bible (Gomez 2005:168). Omar became something of a curiosity for visitors to the Owen household. He assured Christian visitors that he was truly a convert to Christianity, penning for them what they often believed were the Lords Pr ayer or the Twenty-third Psalm in Arabic. This was not, in fact, always the case (Austin 1984:447). He seems to have been able to convince Owen and others of his assertion that he was of a weak body, since hard labor was ne ver required of him. Allan D. Austin relates that What he did, exactly, for his keep is a mystery, and that Several romantic accounts hopelessly disagree (1984:447). The ac tivities of his daily life, apart from treating visitors, are somewhat of a mystery. In life and death he remained a curiosity, and curiosity fed speculation. This, coupled with the desire to see Omar write, ultimately kept his story alive. Bilali, or Ben Ali This is not a story about one man, though it may seem that way. Perhaps the most interesting part about Bilali is not his life but his legacy, si nce Islam as it was brought to Sapelo Island in Georgia did not disappear after the first generation it thrived there. Further, as Allan D. Austin noted, this story is not to be confused with several attractive
66 yet completely negrophobic stories for children which their author, Joel Chandler Harris, the creator of Uncle Remus, pretended were modeled on Bilali or one of his sons (1984:265). The story of Bilali is a mixture of de tails related by his friend Salih Bilali, folklore, and the memories of his descende nts. Zephaniah Kingsley, a slaveholder in Florida, remembers two instances, to th e southward, where gangs of negroes were prevented from deserting to the enemy [the British between 1812 and 1815] by drivers, or influential negroes, whose integrity to th eir masters and influence over the slaves prevented it; and what is still more remarkab le, in both instances th e influential negroes were Africans; and professors of the Ma homedan religion (1984:268). Austin notes This is, without a doubt, a reference to the tw o Bilalis (1984:268). That is, Bilali of Sapelo Island, with which I am currently concerned, and Salih Bilali, of St. Simons Island. Austin lays out that according to Salih Bilali, Bilali was a Fula from Timbo, Futa Jallon, in the highlands of presentday Guinea-Conakry (1984:268). This was the homeland also of Abdul Rahaman, whose stor y will follow. He eventually became the manager of a large Sea Island property and its 400 to 500 souls, whom he reportedly saved twice: in the War of 1812 (mentioned ab ove) and in a great hurricane in 1824. He was also prolific, producing twelve sons and seven daughters to whom he passed on African names, terms, and traditions that were clearly Muslim (Austin 1984:265). Between Africa and Georgia fell the shadows of the Middle Passage and a stay of indefinite length in the Bahamas. Bilali either brought with him or there married one or more wives (four are legitimate in Islam), and he was brought to the mainland with a then unnumbered progeny of sons and daughters. Usually, Muslims did not learn European languages until doing so appeared advantageous, but it is reported that all but the last daug hter could speak English, French, Fulfulde, and, perhaps, Arabic (1984:272).
67 Katie Brown (see photograph, Figure 4.2), a descendent of Bila li still resided on Sapelo Island when interviewed in the 1930s for the Georgia Writers Project. She spoke of Bilalis wife and daughters. His daughters were: Margaret, Hester, Charlotte (Cotty), Fatima, Yoruba, Medina, and Binty (Austin 1984 :278). Fatima and Medina are distinctly Muslim names. Fig. 4.2 Photograph of Katie Brown on Sapelo Island (GWP 1940: XVa) Katie Brown related that all Bilalis daughters had been born by the time he arrived in America. He and one of his wive s, Phoebe, from the Bahamas, prayed with beads which they were very particular about, and at very specific tim es. She says, Bilali he pull back and he say, Belambi, Hakabara Mahamadia. (A compression of God is one, great and Mohammed is his prophet?) (Austin 1984:278). Austin notes that,
68 Phoebe passed on some African words ( sojo, deloe, and diffy ) and made the ceremonial saraka cake for harvest time (1984:278). And sp eaking of her grandmother Margaret, one of Bilalis daughters, Katie Brown also re membered that she had not tied her hair up the way that Katie did, but wore a loose white cloth that she threw over her head like a veil which hung loose on her shoulders (Georgia Writers Project 1940:162). Shad Hall, another descendent of Bi lali spoke of conjur ing, shouts, harvest festivals, funerals, shadows, working hoes, flying Africans, and An Nancy (Anansi), the spider hero, and about an uncle named Bilali Smith, and Austin suggests that, Halls grandmother, at least, clearly attempted to k eep her Islamic traditions alive even as she worried about spirits of the dead which might need to be driven away by the death of a white chicken. This contradicts the tradition which claimed that Bilalis children were Christians (1984:278). More is known about Bilalis story however, than what can be gathered from his descendents. Bilali was a respected Muslim from Fu ta Jallon, put in charge of hundreds of slaves on Sapelo Island, Georgia for a subs tantial amount of time beginning at least before the War of 1812. He continually particip ated in activities that identified him as a Muslim to a degree that warranted notice. Aus tin provides a picture, relating that Bilali, regularly wore a fez and a long coat just as he might have in Africa; he prayed the obligatory three times a day facing the East on his carefully preserved prayer rug; and he always observed Muslim fasts and feast-day celebrations, and that When the time came, Bilali was buried with his rug and Quran (1984:265). He and his wifes prayers using beads and the continued recognizable Mu slim practices of his children have been passed on in the memories of his desce ndents. Further, Timboand Futa Jallon,
69 generally was an intellectual center, a nd despite a common attitude expressed in American writing one white preferred to th ink of Bilali as bei ng copper-toned the more sedentary and scholarly Fulbe were likel y to be black rather than brown. Indeed, black descendents remembered him as being coal-black. He was in no way Arabian, as Harris insisted; he was African (1984:268). In addition to the respect he gained for his managerial skills and his actions during the War of 1812 and the hurricane, what might have caused white slave-owners to insist he could not be African? Literacy. Bilali, like Omar ibn Said and many other enslaved African Muslims, was literate in Arabic, which for racist whites seems to have inspired the desire to explain away this written manifestation of in telligence as the product not of an African but of a member of some other people. However the manuscript which Bilali penne d does not compare to that of Omar ibn Saids autobiography. The manuscript was found to be a collection of excerpts from a fairly well-known West African legal text of the Malikite sc hool predominant in Muslim West Africa from Morocco to the Gu lf of Guinea (1984:272). It does, therefore, compare to some of Omars other writings. On Bilalis manuscript, a linguist concluded that, From the first it seemed improbable to me that the document could be a diary or plantation record, since among th e African Negro Moslems Arab ic is only used to copy existing standard works, original compositi on being confined to chronicles of local dynasties (1984:288). The case of Omar ibn Said and others obviously defies this particular misconception. What is the significance of Bilalis manuscript, of the memories of his life preserved by his descendents, of his story? Austin asks, Has it not told us that Bilali,
70 sleeping the long sleep in Georgia soil with his beloved Koran and hi s prayer rug beside him, had a greatly different life and status in that far distant time and place? And more than that, that he was a disciple in that Muslim school of learning which the erudite Professor John Henry Wigmore aptly describes as the most highly organized plan of legal education and judicial training that any of the worl ds legal systems have ever known? (1984:292). I suggest that while Austin may be impressed, he falls short of communicating the significan ce of Bilalis legacy. As remembered by Bilalis descendents, Islamic practice on the Sea Islands of Georgia persisted at least into the 1850s, if not longe r. Katie Brown was born around 1851 (1984:278), and she remembered her grandm others Muslim-style head covering, so unlike her own. Nero Jones, also a resident of Sapelo Island in terviewed during the Georgia Writers Project, recalled that his gr andparents Gilbert and Calina prayed at particular times and on the beads, and to Aus tin it seems that these people were Muslim, and that Muslims married one another on Sapelo Island into a second generation at least (1984:279). Austin goes on to note that Those Afro -Americans who did recall Bilali and his peculiar habits remembered them as reca lled by women. Here women seem to be the carriers of their peoples traditions and perhaps this was more often the case among Muslims than has hitherto been recognized (1984:279). This may have been necessarily true where women were responsible for cooki ng and Muslim dietary restrictions were observed. Historian Michael A. Gomez finds information on the subject somewhat limited, but notes that, Corneila Baily offers a glimpse with her observation that Bilalis children would not eat wild an imals or fresh meat, and th at seafood such as crab was
71 avoided, as were certain kinds of fish ( 2005:156). Other memories include those of saraka the rice cake mentioned above. Some memories associated with women a nd Islamic practice have little to do with food, however, such as another provided by Shad Hall. In addition to his other memories of his grandmother Hester and th e rest of Bilalis daughters, Hall also related that Hester and all of them prayed on the bead, and that they wore the string of beads sometimes on their waist, sometimes on their neck, and pr ayed at sun-up on thei r knees, facing the sun, bowing three times while kneeling on a little mat (2005:156). It may at least be said that Muslim traditions as they were preserved on Sapelo Island were largely transmitted by women. In addition, where in other places traditional religious observance was suppressed by those enslaving Africans (eith er using potential conversion as an excuse for slavery or atte mpting to stem an avenue for organizing and rebellion); Sapelo Island may have provide d a unique climate for Muslim beliefs to thrive. Allan D. Austin relates that it was th e plan of Thomas Spalding (Bilalis captor) to treat his slaves like serfs, where Each had hi s own land to work; labor for the master was limited to six hours a day, and slaves worked by the task system a fairly common practice on the islands off Georgia where slaves significantly outnumbered freemen (1984:276). The task system allowed an amount of time away from assigned work from ones captors once the tasks were completed. Th is may have been the ideal system for a practicing enslaved Muslim, w ho could pause to pray as l ong as the task assigned was completed. Gomez writes, The Muslim presence in coastal Georgia-South Carolina (and possibly elsewhere along the Atlantic) was th erefore active, vibrant, and compelling
72 (2005:159). It is this vibrancy which for me suggests that th e significance of Bilalis story is his legacy, a community wher e Muslim practice continued to thrive in captivity beyond Bilali himself. Ibrahima Abd ar-Rahman or Prince What is in a name? The life story be low is drawn primarily from the tireless efforts of author Terry Alford, who would not give up until he had discovered the story in full (Alford 1977:xvii).5 The man at the center of that story was known for most of his life simply as Prince, the name given him by those who enslaved him. But he was not born with a simple name. He was born Abd ar-Rahman Ibrahima, a Muslim name, and his family name. Many of those enslaved lost all they had, family, friends, and home, and even their names in their American captiv ity. Many descendents, Muslim or non-Muslim, unlike the rare Katie Browns or Shad Halls cannot trace their roots. Muslim names often appear in lists of slave names or advert isements posted for runaway slaves (Gomez 2005:147). But they were, like the names of their fellow Africans often mispronounced and misspelled. Bilali (the name of the fi rst black follower of the prophet Muhammad and Islams first muezzin ) became Bullaly. Abu Bakr (the name of the first Muslim caliph) became Boccarey. Mahmud became Mamado, Muhammad became Mahomet, and Wali (a legal guardian or protector under Islamic law) became Walley (Abdo 2006: 66). And then there is Samba (second son in the language of the Muslim Fulbe), which became simply Sam, or Sambo. Ultimately, they were often erased, one more dehumanizing act of slaveholding. Ye t, that these stories exist m eans that this thesis treats 5 Alford spent many years of his life researching and traveled extensively, including to Africa, to complete the story.
73 more than the hypothetical. Slavery could cost one ones name, but could not silence the shahadah. When exactly, it is not known, but sometime before 1730, a nomadic, cattleherding people in West Africa began to settle in the land occupied by the Jalunke people. This group was the Fulbe (also called the Fula, Fulani, Foulahs or Poulas). The region became known as Futa Jalon (the land of the Fulbe and Jalunke). For a time relations between the two groups were peaceful, the farming Jalunke dairy products and meat from the herding Fulbe (Alford 1986:3). Yet differences divided them. The farming Jalunke were animists who worshipped many gods, while the Fulbe herder s were mostly Muslim. Terry Alford reports that tensions grew, to the extent that the Jalunke at last forbade the Fulbe to pray in public, and even forced them to hide their holy books in caves(1986:4). In time, a Muslim cleric named Karamoko Alfa, called for a jihad, a struggle against these restrictions. A man named Sori took up the ca ll and led the Fulbe into war, and by 1730, Alford writes, the Muslim supremacy was established (1986:4). A theocracy led by Karamoko Alfa was established, but his excessive religious practices drove him mad by 1748, and it was ne cessary to replace him. The new leader, popular with the army, and the peoples choice, was Sori. He regularly waged campaigns on the countrys frontiers and was often succ essful (1986:5). They were not, however, simply a warring polity. They were heavily involved in trade with Europeans. They came to the coast to trade ivory, rice, hide s, livestock, and gold, and slaves who had been taken as prisoners of war, who were exchanged for salt and European goods (1986:5). A town called Timbo became the political, religious, and scholastic center.
74 Alford describes the town and the mosque. T he mosque, set among orange trees, was the most prominent structure in town, and the second oldest place in Futa. Built in the shape of a great cone, it was supporte d internally by wooden pillars sunk into a pressed clay floor. The faithful worshipped on sheepskin mats placed in rows three feet apart. Prominent families such as Soris had rural residences near Timbo and were often there (1986:6). For a photograph of the mosque at Timbo see Figure 4.4 Fig. 4.4 Photograph of the mosque at Ti mbo in the 1930s (Alford 1986: after 108) The family of Sori, ruler of Futa Jallon, included sons. Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima was one of these sons. Ibrahima began his st udies in Timbo in 1769, at the age of seven. He learned Arabic and Pular (the language of the Fulbe), and to memorize the Quran. Constantly studying, in 1774, at the age of twelve, his father sent him outside Futa Jalon to continue studying at Maci na and at Timbuktu (1986:12).
75 Macina lay approximately one thousand mile s to the east, in what is today Mali. Jenne was its major city, noted for its sophisticated Islamic scholars. Timbuktu was twelve more days travel from Jenne. In Macina, Ibrahima would have observed towns much larger and more populous than anything in Fula (1986:13). At the age of seventeen, Ibrahima returned to Futa to join his fathers army. In his absence his father, Sori, had been successful militarily (1986:14). He continued wars to expand the Muslim faith and wealth of Futa. He assigned his son to the cavalry. In one campaign in 1781, young Ibrahima went out unde r the command of his uncle Sulimina against a Bambara army of five or six thous and, but Sulimina was kill ed early. This left inexperienced Ibrahima in charge (1986:16) After laying an ambush for the enemy, he was victorious. Alford writes, The year of 1781 came to a portentous close. A one-eyed Irishman named John Coates Cox, a surgeon of a ship on the coast, went ashore to hunt and became separated from his companions. Lost, attacked by insects, exhausted, and possibly suffering from a snake bite, Cox was found by residents of Futa and brought to Timbo. Sori saw that he was taken care of, a nd Alford speculates that he may have taken a wife and fathered a son in Timbo. Ibrahi ma befriended the doctor, and learned some English. After Cox was healed and had stayed for a time, Sori offered some soldiers to escort him back to the coast, and he found th e same ship from which he had been lost (1986:17,18). 1786 was a time of peace, and Ibrahima married and fathered a son, al-Husayn (1986:19). Yet the peace would not last. In another campa ign under his command, he and his army were caught unaware. Many were killed, and he was among those captured and
76 sold to the Malinke along the Gambia River. Ib rahima and fifty of his soldiers were sold to an English slaver, and suffered the long Middle Passage to the Caribbean. Only one remained with him for the remainder of his journey. In 1788 he and Samba, or Sambo, suffered another grueling voya ge to New Orleans (Gomez 2005:169). They were then brought north to Natchez, Mississippi, and so ld to a planter named Thomas Foster. At some point after his arrival at the Fosters farm, Ibrahima attempted to explain his identity to his captor, suggesting that his fa ther would be willing to pay for his return. The Fulbe were not accustomed to slavery, and had Foster attempted to return Ibrahima after a ransom payment had been pa id by his father, it would not have been the first time an enslaved Muslim in America was liberated in such a way. One example is Ayuba b. Sulayman (or Job Ben Solomon). He became enslaved and arrived in Maryland in 1732, and was on his way back to Africa by 1733. It was found that his father was a leading cleric in the upper Senegal valley, and due to the intervention of a benevolent officer of the Royal African Company he wa s able to gain his liberty (Gomez 1998:85, 71). Foster, however, refused to hear any such explications, and it was probably from that day forward that Ibrahima became known as Prince. And Prince fled. He did not go far from Natchez. Once in the unfamiliar w ilderness of a country in which he had no allies, he found himself at a loss. After a few weeks he returned to the Fosters farm and agreed to work. Thomas Foster was not a rich man, and Prince became invaluable to him. In 1794, Prince married Isabella, a Baptist who had also been purchased by Foster. With no hope of seeing the wife and son he had le ft behind in Futa Jallon, he began anew. Together they had nine children, five sons and four daughters.
77 Michael Gomez writes that Samba the companion of Abd ar-Rahman, had at least three sons, and he gave them all Muslim names (2005:173). Gomez also claims that Abd ar-Rahman and Samba, his fellow Pu llo (singular of Fulbe) enslaved on the same farm, were able to associate closely with each other, and the two communicated with at least one other Muslim, a Mandinka in this instance, from Natchez (2005:172). Through other Muslims in Natchez and the use of traditional Muslim names, Prince and Samba preserved their Muslim identity. Around 1807, the enslaved man known as Pr ince (See portrait, Figure 4.5) was in the town of Natchez selling vegetables. While on the street he saw a familiar man riding by on a horse. It was none other than Dr. John Coates Cox, the white man who years before lost his way in Futa Jallon and was be friended by Ibrahima (Prince) and his father Sori. After recognizing his friend, Cox embr aced him and brought him to his home. Cox attempted to purchase Princes freedom from Thomas Foster, but Foster refused at any price. Though Cox had little money, he persisted. When Cox died, his son continued to attempt to secure Princes freedom. Over the years, the story of the ensl aved African prince in Natchez aroused curiosity among those who heard it. One of these was a man named Andrew Marschalk who worked for the local newspaper. After they became acquainted, Marschalk suggested that Prince write a letter to his relatives in Africa. At first Prince refused, but eventually made an attempt in 1826. Marschalk, for r easons which may forever remain known only to him, seems to have been convinced that Prince belonged to a royal lineage of a rather large polity in comparison to Futa Jallon, th at is, Morocco. Marschalk sent a copy of the
78 letter to Senator Thomas Reed in Washington who forwarded it to the U.S. Consulate in Morocco Fig. 4.5 Portrait of Abdul Rahaman (Austin 1984:122) The assumption, which seems to have been common, was that since Prince wrote in Arabic, he could not really have been wh at was then called a Negro, but was rather, a Moor. Gomez asserts that In fact, Abd ar-Rahman, if he did not initiate the idea, certainly did not dispute the claim that he was a Moor; on the contrary, he placed the negro in a scale of being in finitely below the Moor(2005:182). Various authors have commented on the attitudes, behaviors, and actions of enslaved Fulbe and Muslims in America who apparently made claims of superiority. Michae l Gomez finds that it was not
79 startling to read of Abd ar-Rahmans commen ts to Cyrus Griffin, in which he states explicitly, and with an air of pride, that not a single dr op of negro blood runs in his veins, and that This attitude was confirmed by the children of Bilali, all of whom were Muslims, and who were described as holding th emselves aloof from the others as if they were conscious of their own superiority (2005: 177). Prince, in his years of enslavement, would have been directly affected by racial ideology. He should have become fully aware of the connotations of negro as it was used in the Americas, where it implied more than physical characteristics. He would have been aware of and subject to its demeaning use. Gomez goes on to assert that It is instructive that Wyatt-Brow n, in discussing three related yet distinct psychol ogical responses by men to ensl avement, cites Ibrahima Abd ar-Rahman as a prime example of a Fulbe ma n who, by virtue of hi s exclusionary early socialization via other ethnici ties, embodies the first catego ry of response, which was characterized by a ritualized compliance inculcated dignity and pride as he reconciled himself to enslavement by remembering his pulaaku the essence of the distinctive Fulbe character and prescriptive code of behavior (2005:178). I suggest that a distinctive Fulbe character, while perhaps present, was not required in order fo r an enslaved man to refuse identifying himself in terms that would have suggested to the dominant society some false inherent racial inferiority. Audrey Smedley (2007:174), analyzing the issue of race in North America, has identified certain consequences of eighteenth -century, scientific race classifications: They gave an aura of permanence and rigidity to conceptions of human group differences, The classifica tions easily lent themselves to hierarchical structuring, fostering an impression of inequality among the different groups, and such classifications by reputable and widely renowned scientists (naturalists) such as Linnaeus and Blumenbach made humankind part of the natural order of things, which legitimized as natural and as God-given the inferior qualities
80 ascribed to non-Europeans and helped to justify their lower positions in world societies. The letter, which Prince penned, seems to have been no more than the alFatiha the first sura of the Quran. Later, he would wr ite it in various instances for whites who believed they were receiving the Lo rds Prayer in an exotic hand (Gomez 2005:172). Nevertheless, after receiving it the Sultan of Morocco requested that President Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay rel ease Prince. It was, at the least, evidence that the author was a fellow Muslim enslaved. In 1828, Thomas Foster finally agreed to release Prince, and without payment. This agreement, however, came with the strict s tipulation by Foster that he must return to Africa immediately, and could not remain in America to enjoy the rights of being a free man. Fosters wishes went un acknowledged. Once the reality of a return to his homeland set in, Prince realized the enormity of leaving his family behind. In Natchez he raised $200 to buy his wife Isabellas freedom. His goal was to do the same for his children. Marschalk thought it best that Prince s ee some of America before his voyage home, so he arranged for the old man and Isab ella to make stops in a few cities before they reached Washington D.C. Marschal k also had a Moorish costume made for Prince, which he wore during his travels en route to Washington, soliciting donations to buy his familys freedom. Various groups ha d him make personal appearances as a curiosity and, for those such as the American Colonization Society, to further their own agenda. His story frequently made the press, and word eventually reached his previous owner that he had not left the country. Fost er was exceptionally critical, but fortunately powerless to negatively a ffect the situation.
81 After it became evident in Washington that he was not, in fact, Moroccan, the American Colonization Society held a meeting and had him attend. They expressed hope that he could convert to Christ ianity, and were able to convin ce him to settle in Liberia. Despite their efforts, Prince and Isabella di d not manage to raise enough funds to free their children before they departed for Monrovia, Liberia in 1829. In addition, despite the Colonization Societys hopes, it appears that Prince continued to practice Islam, and that after a brief interest in Christianity or perh aps a conscious dissimulation in order to gain support for his repatriation, he immediately re affirmed his Muslim beliefs upon his return to Africa (Gomez 2005:171). Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, the man known as Prince, never returned to Futa Jallon, his homeland. Nor did he discover if th e wife and son he had left behind still lived. He lived for four months before falli ng ill, and passed away in Liberia before his American children could join him there. Conclusion Allan D. Austin has attempted to tell the story of African Muslims in antebellum America, and he suggests As more students lo ok into relevant records, these people will undoubtedly become less exotic (1996:25). It is clear by the contemporary reactions to the individuals described above, often char acterized by assumptions of royalty, illinformed and often inspiring speculation, th at they were treated as oddities. The incorporation of the African Mu slim presence for considerati ons of the enslaved African experience in the Americas is not an effort to spice up the study by the inclusion of a curiosity. Rather, the stories above reflect the st atus quo for representations of those enslaved whose stories could not be molded and forced into a model which assumed the
82 Middle Passage and subsequent captivitys effective erasure of traditional life ways and beliefs. This model is advocated by Albert J. Raboteau when he claims that While it is true that Africa influenced black culture in the United States, including black religion, it is also true that African ritu al did not endure to the extent that they did in Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. In the United States th e gods of Africa died (2004:86). In the United States, the gods of Afri ca died. Raboteau is sure of this, but struggles to understand it. Why were African gods and rituals able to survive in other countries but not in the Unite d States? In the process Rabot eau (2004) examines the early 20th century arguments made by E. Franklin Fr azier and Melville Herskovits, and raises some important points which are worth examining. For Frazier, Raboteau relates, deculturati on began before Africans even set foot on the slave ships, and The fact that many slaves were captured in intertribal warfare and the demands of plantation work force ensu red that a large percentage of the slave population was young and male. And young males are poor bearers of the cultural heritage of a people (2004: 53). In the stories related above, young males remembered, preserved, and sometimes passed on their cultural heritage. A different argument from Melville Hers kovits, a student of Franz Boas, railed against the myth of the African past (o r lack of one). Raboteau finds that, For Herskovits the destruction of this myth was not simply a matter of detached scholarship. It also has important practical ramifications in the struggle against racism. To deny that the black American had a culture and a history of significance and sophistication in Africa and to suggest that African culture has not advanced enough to endure contact with superior European culture was to im ply that Negroes were an inferior people (2004:48). The stories told about the individuals above in their time, by branding these Muslims or their behavior as unusual or e xotic simultaneously reflected the view of
83 slaveholding society that captiv es were uncultured and ignorant. The implications of the knowledge that some of the enslaved were li terate or monotheistic were unthinkable. Unintentionally, later studies continued to pe rpetuate this theme by remaining silent on the subject of the maintenance of traditional life ways and beliefs. Studies today, following the work of Leland Ferguson (2004) and others, are taking into consideration this continuity, via strategies of resistance and accommodation. Raboteau argues that although these corre ctive measures, such as taking into account continued Bakongo and Muslim practice are important, other historians argue that the complexity of the patterns of slave capture in Africa, with networks stretching hundreds of miles inland, and the complexity of slave distribution after arrival in the Americas cast doubt on the proposition that in tegral African cultures were transplanted across the Atlantic, and that Moreover, th e inaccuracy of the ethnic identifications supplied by slave traders and slave masters a nd the anachronistic ap pellation of modern concepts of ethnicity and nationality to pre-colonial Africans made confident identifications of specific African slave populations seem implausible (2004:329). Here Raboteau seems to fall prey to the very idea against which Herskovits rails, that African culture was not advanced enough to endur e European contact. Though the ethnic identifications made by traders may have been inaccurate, would Omar ibn Said or Ibrahima have incorrectly self -reported as having been from Futa Toro and Futa Jallon respectively? Raboteau concedes that Clearly there we re Muslim slaves in the United States; their number we dont know. The few descri ptions of their re ligious lives are tantalizingly brief. Still, Islam among Am erican slaves deserves more extensive
84 treatment (2004:332). Raboteau is correct in that ways of worshipping, if they continued, would have to have changed. It is unlikely that traditional ways of worshipping would survive even a generati on. Even rediscovery or revival of those traditions and beliefs by descendents and later generations is not the same as a continued, preserved, or maintained practice. The verity or fallacy of Raboteaus asserti on is not the issue. It is simply a useful notion against which to consider the issues of the archaeology of an ideology, or of the enslaved African experience. Considering th e maintenance of religion and individual religious identity in the climate that was American captivity may not be a productive endeavor for historical archaeology. It may be fruitful for historic al archaeologists to concern themselves with questions about th e preservation of cultural identities. Not simply African identities, but Muslim, Mandingo, Fula, Igbo, Coro mantee, and others. Not static, but always changing. These considerations are beginning, but it will take time and good scholarship. Scholars are seeing the evidence of c ontinued beliefs and practices in the archaeological record. The critical archaeology described in Chapter Two which produced a clay bundle found in October of 2008 by the archaeologists at the University of Maryland under the direction of Mark Leone is one such case. Dating to 1700, it is and filled with lead shot, iron nails, copper pins and a stone axe (a symbol thought to be associated with Shango, recognized by the Yo ruba and Fon people of Benin as their god of thunder and lightning), and was found on what would have been a street surface in Annapolis, Maryland (Wilford: 2008). Such mate rial connections must be arrayed against
85 what Leone and Potter would call a descriptive grid, and a new set of questions may be formed in light of context and connections made. Barbara Little notes that Part of what archaeology can do is provide access to more of the past. It can give voice to thos e who were muted by the colonial system and counter the long-standing legacy of colonial ideology that categorized the colonized as uncivilized and unworthy (2007: 54). The theories and methods of historical archaeology reviewed in this chapte r, including the use of storytelling, may serve to give voice to such muted groups. In an effort to further give voi ce to the muted group that is the subject of this study, I suggest that in some cases it may be productive to recontextualize, to revisit the archaeological record in light of th e documentary evidence, and vice versa. I suggest that in light of the stories told above, Islam should join the complex of identities over which archaeologists puzzle and about which they ultimately craft new stories.
86 CHAPTER V: BLUE BEADS AND LITTLE THINGS: MUSLIM ARTIFACTS IN AMERICA As the previous chapter indicated, there were a considerable number of Muslims dispersed among enslaved African American p opulations in America. It is clear that although they found themselves confined in hos tile settings, a signi ficant number were not content to silence their faith. As Sylvai ne Diouf suggests, They showed realism; under certain conditions, they opted for a su rface assimilation that guaranteed them physical survival and, beyond this, the surviv al of their creed (1999:70). Others remained steadfast practitioners active in a faith which shap ed their world. The stories of some have survived, and some remain nameless. An African Diaspora Archaeology concer ned with the materiality of Muslim identity must necessarily be informed by the archaeology of religious ritual. Lars Fogelin (2007) explores the various ways archaeologi sts have studied religion and ritual, and finds they often focus on ritual, since There is a widespread archaeological understanding that ritual is a form of human action that leaves material traces, whereas religion is a more abstract symbolic system consisting of beliefs, myths, and doctrines (56). This creates a dichotomy between religi on and ritual, where religion is defined as belief and ritual as action. For many the division is not this simple, and some emphasize one over the other. Fogelin finds that most recognize a dialectic between ritual and religion, where ritual elements recovered arch aeologically can be used to infer belief systems, just as ethnohistoric data concerning the mythology of a particular society can be used to investigate its rituals (2007:56). In this thesis I am concerned with mate rial remains which indi cate religious ritual activity associated w ith Muslim identity. Fogelins disc ussion informs my understanding
87 of ritual as it may potentially be interpreted in the archaeological record. I accept ritual both as an action producing material culture capable of retaining valuable social information, as well as one which may construc t, create, or modify religious beliefs, allowing individuals to remember, forget, or recreate elements of their religion through ritual practices (2007:58). I find both facet s of ritual especially important for understanding rituals enacted by subordinated groups or individuals in the context of enslavement. The former is useful for a model concerned with understanding material culture which reflects the maintenance of a Muslim identity. The latter offers a model for understanding the ways those same material expressions may adjust or transform in captive contexts. The meaning of rituals may change for individuals enacting them in new environments, especially in renegotiati ng them to ensure their relevance in new social spheres. In this chapter I will examine artifacts recovered from contexts of African and African American enslavement in North America, and explore their similarity to material expressions of Muslim identity. I draw on Christopher Fennels (2007 ) notion of tangible heritage as outline in Chapter Two, to inform my understanding of material expressions of identity. As stated previously, the transmi ssion of intangible cult ural heritage was a critical mechanism for the transatlantic movement of particular traditions during the slave trade. One of these traditions was Islam. An individual or groups cu ltural heritage provides them with a shared system of beliefs and practices. This system affords them a set of durable dispositions by which to view the world. Fennel finds th at Material culturefunctions in varying contexts as a primary medium for creating, confirming, or modifying cultural beliefs and practices
88 (2007:38). Despite a set of durable dispositions, individuals make the choice to actively express their identities, or particular facets of them. Viewing material expressions as active elements can aid in understanding how expressions of identity may present themselv es stylistically. H. Martin Wobst (1977) discusses the stylistic shaping of materi al expressions which serve to communicate intragroup affiliations in intergroup contexts. Style itself, then, is a symbolic mode of expression. Christopher Fennel draws on Wobsts work, which is particularly intriguing for considering symbolic expressions of religious tradition and ultimately Muslim identity. Fennels notion of style includes asp ects of form and appearance that are additional to those required by utilitarian function (2007:39). Thus, style represents a conscious choice of any number of viable alternatives. Stylis tic choice and innovation are evident in personal modes of symbolic expre ssion which convey fundamental elements of cultural groups cosmologies and senses of identity. Fennel refers to these modes of expression as core symbols, which may be emblematic or instrumental, where emblematic versions serve to summarize th e identity of a culture group as a cohesive unit (2007:8). Instrumental symbols are ofte n abbreviated forms for personal use. Fennel notes the complications which aris e when there is a dominant religion and other religious belief systems are often driv en underground, and the public exercise of group rituals of such folk re ligions typically becomes impr acticable, due to the social pressures imposed by members of the dominant religion (2007:41). The primary way the subordinated religious tradition could con tinue is through priv ate, instrumental invocations of core symbols. Fennel posits that when persons who practiced a dominant
89 religion in one region are removed from that context and placed into a new area where they are not in controlthey often have to abandon the public display of group exercises of their religion, but, in time, they may a dopt the dominant religion that holds sway in that new setting and attend its public ceremonies, all the whil e practicing the beliefs of their previous religion in private surroundi ngs (2007:41-42). This pr edictive model fits what is known from the documentary eviden ce for enslaved Muslim practice in North America. As for other places in the Americas Portuguese Brazil at least seems to have been an exception, with enslaved Mus lims congregating openly until the Muslim Uprising in 1835. Wobst claims that a social actor would undertake the stylistic shaping of material culture to communicate social group identity onl y when it was efficient to do so, since it would be a dysfunctional waste of energy and ma tter for a social actor to invest time and labor in creating a stylistically shaped obj ect to communicate with persons whom that individual interacts on a regul ar basis (2007:40). This woul d be the case if the actor could easily communicate the information verba lly, which is considered to have a lower cost than the production of material culture. This conception of style, however, does not take into account power disparities. Fennel formulates style for the enslaved. He finds that contrary to Wobsts assumptions, talk is not always cheap, and such verb al utterances are ephemeral and require a speakers repeated emission over time ( 2007:40). This is the case where enslaved Muslims in the Americas continued to expre ss their identity through prayer and utterance of the shahada. The communication of Muslim identity which the public utterance of the shahada or daily prayers conveyed survived only because strangers chose to record them,
90 making them recoverable from the documenta ry record. This mode of expression is invisible materially, the message conveyed lasts only as long as the utterance. In contrast to this, Fennel says that an object emits a stylistic message repeatedly and constantly as it is displayed to an audi ence that understands the language of the style (2007:40). Recitations of daily prayers by enslav ed Muslims could not be used as a type of continuous identity expressi on in the same way that obj ects could. Further, Objects used and displayed in a setting with relative ly low visibility to outsiders may achieve high visibility and efficiency of communication to a different audience of insiders (2007:40). In this way, material expressions of Muslim identity could communicate both a shared identity to other enslaved Muslims, as well as difference, and rejection of the dominant system to other captive Africans a nd African-Americans. Th is tangible heritage could serve to convey strong statements about resistance and rejection of the dominant order. For in the seemingly little and insignificant things that accumulate to create a lifetime, the essence of our exis tence is captured, writes James Deetz, it is thus terribly important that the small things forgotten be remembered (1996:259). The following sections each introduce a si te associated with African and/or African American enslavement, artifacts recovered from th e site, and their contexts. These sites were chosen for a variety of r easons; some due to their renown, such as the Hermitage and Poplar Forest, but all are ultim ately presented as a result of the emphasis placed on the objects discussed in the literature about these sites. In the next chapter I evaluate whether the symbolic e xpression of Muslim traditions in contexts of captivity is a persuasive basis for interpreting th eir meaning and significance.
91 The Hermitage The Hermitage, located outside Nashville, Tennessee, is the 19th-century plantation home of Andrew Jackson. The ar tifacts under consideration were excavated from contexts associated with five former African-American dw ellings at the site. I draw on Aaron E. Russells (1997) Material Culture and African-American Spirituality at the Hermitage to contextualize the finds. The structures included: two brick dwellings, the Yard Cabin (probably a log dwelling), the S outh Cabin (brick, located northeast of the mansion), and a log structure known as KES (see map in Figure 5.1 below). Fig. 5.1 Map of Hermitage Plantation: Standi ng structures and ar chaeological sites (Russell 1997:65)
92 Each had intact antebellum deposits, and we re occupied between 1821, when the Jackson family moved from their initial log dwelli ngs to the present Hermitage mansion, and 1857-1858, when the Jacksons moved off the pr operty, with the excep tion of KES, which was probably occupied before the completion of the Hermitage (1997:66). Russell (1997:66) finds that While all of the contexts examined are quite rich in artifacts, the generally mixed and disturbed nature of the deposits makes it difficult to define specific activity areas within the dwe llings. Thus he discusses the finds as a single assemblage, whether found in midden depo sits or features such as root cellars within the dwellings. Due to these limitations, he concludes that concrete interpretations of spiritual behaviors on the part of Af rican Americans at the Hermitage cannot be made at the present time, yet certain artifact s seem to indicate the presence of an active system of beliefs among African Americans at the Hermitage (1997:66). Artifacts of interest at the Hermitage include sma ll hand charms and blue glass beads. Hand Charms. In the photograph below (Figure 5.2) are three metal hand charms in the form of clenched human fists recove red at the Hermitage. They are copper alloy charms, each measuring no wider than 1cm, retrieved from cabin dwellings. One of the fists proceeds from, and the other two are fr amed by a circular base. The wrist of each charm appears to wear a bracele t. In addition, two of the fist s are clasping wire or thin metal which appear to have once been in the shape of rings. Glass Beads. Of a total 64 glass beads recove red at the Hermitage as of 1997, hexagonal beads make up the majority of th e assemblage (59 percent). The beads are blue, colorless, or black, with blue predom inating. Fifty-four percent of the hexagonal
93 Fig. 5.2 Copper-alloy hand charms from the Hermitage (Thomas 1998:346) glass beads found were blue, and they were recovered from four of the dwellings, excluding only the site known as the Yard Cabin (1997:69). Poplar Forest Poplar Forest is the site of a nineteen th century plantation. It was the sometime home and retreat of Thomas Je fferson. When Jeffersons wife inherited the plantation in 1773 there was already at least one enslav ed family and several other enslaved individuals present at th e property, and by 1819, 94 enslav ed individuals lived and worked there (Heath 2004:3). Archaeological en deavors at the site have been concerned both with Poplar Forests arch itecture and landscape, as well as the lives of the enslaved men and women who lived and worked there day to day. Hand Charms. Nearly identical to the hand ch arms found at the Hermitage, the charm in Figure 5.3 was recovered at Poplar Forest, site of Thomas Jeffersons home.
94 The charm was stamped out of sheet brass, and was recovered from the fill above the chimney base of an antebellum slave cabin (H eath 2004: 34, 35). The size of the charm is not provided. It depicts either a raised, clenched fist, or a hand grasping the circle in which it is framed. Fig. 5.3 Hand Charm recovered at Poplar Forest (Heath 2004: 36) Sapelo Island Sapelo Island, Georgia is the same site on which Bilali and his descendents were enslaved under Thomas Spalding (see Chapte r 3). Spalding and his family operated the main plantation on Sapelo beginning in 1802 (Crook 2008:3), and slavery continued on the island up through the Ci vil War. The family owned nearly 500 enslaved individuals. Over short periods in 1994, 1997, and 1999, Ray Crook led excavations of two cabin dwellings of enslaved African -Americans on the island (See Figure 5.4 for a map showing locations of excavated cabins). The first cabin excavated (Cabin 1) is located in an area known as Behavior, the other (Cabin 2) in one known as New Barn Cr eek. Both settlements are associated with
95 Fig. 5.4 Cabins at Behavior and New Ba rn Creek, 1857 appended map (Crook 2008:11) the Spalding Plantation. The mean-ceramic date of material from Cabin 1 at Behavior is 1851.58, and that derived from the surface collection of Cabin 2 in New Barn Creek is 1838.51 (Crook 2008:13,18). Blue beads. Extensive descriptions of the ar tifacts are not yet available. Among the items recovered at Cabin 1 were blue f aceted glass beads. Cabin 2 yielded blue and also green faceted glass beads (Crook 2008:13, 23). The bead presented for Cabin 1 is a deep blue, while the example presented from Cabin 2 is of a lighter shade, and does not appear to be of the same design. Kingsley Plantation Kingsley Plantation, of Fort George Isla nd, FL (see Figure 5.5 below for a map of the plantation) is named for Zephaniah Kingsley, a plantation owner known both for his atypical views on race and his tendency to encourage those enslaved on his plantation to
96 continue to practice their traditional beliefs and life ways. Kingsle y and his wife Anna occupied the island from 1814 to 1839 (Davidson 2007:6). Fig. 5.5 Map showing arc of slave cabins s outh of Kingsley Planta tion house (Davidson 2007:35) While selling slaves in Cuba, Kingsley purchased Anna, a slave girl who became his wife. In 1806 Anna (Anta) Madgigaine Jai was only 13 and recently taken from the Wolof Empire (present-day Senegal) (Dav idson 2007:14). The Wolof nobility were, at least nominally, Muslim (Fage 1977:486). Ki ngsley held somewhat unconventional beliefs about race for his time. He belie ved the mixing of the races was a way of improving the strength and health of the general populace and as the surest means to resolving divisive problems of racial di fference (Cartwright 2004:177). He and his family eventually relocated from Florida to Haiti, since Kingsle ys beliefs were in conflict with the race laws against those of African descent. He formally freed Anna when she turned 18, and they had four children together and lived as husband and wife for the rest of their lives (Davidson 2007:14).
97 Kingsley did employ enslaved Africa ns, yet the captive experience on his plantation was markedly different from that experienced where planters attempted to sharply curtail African beliefs and cultural expressions. When Kingsley arrived on Fort George Island in 1814 he brought over 66 enslav ed individuals with him, for whom he advocated humane treatment, encouraging them to live in family units and practice their African customs (Landers 1996:137). He permitted those he enslaved a significant degree of autonomy. This is evident in the case of Gullah Jack. Kingsley imported Gullah Jack from Mozambique in 1806, and described him as a conjurer or priest in his own country, MChoolay Morcema, and he wrote th at Jack had his conjuring implements with him in a bag which he brought on board the ship and always retained them (Landers 1996:169). It appears Kingsley wa s fully aware an accepting of traditional African religious practices. This is in contrast to the Protesta nt sects he tried to root out mong the enslaved, which he found more disruptive (Landers 1996:169). a Of note is the fact that at Kingsley Plantation in 1968 Dr. Charles Fairbanks of the University of Florida conducted the earliest a ttempt at an African-American archaeology in the United States that specifically addressed issues pertaining to slave life (Davidson 2007:4). at the Kingsley Plantation. Blue beads. During 2007, five beads were recovered from the excavation of one cabin, four of which were blue (See Figur e 5.6). Three blue glass beads came from a single unit positioned directly in front of the doorway, while the fourth blue bead from was recovered from a doorway leading into the cabins bedroom (Davidson 2007:99). Another cabin also yielded a blue bead from a unit within the doorway of that structure (Fig 5.6). Each of the beads wa s of a distinctive manufacture, differing also in shape and
98 color. All of these beads were found belo w the tabby floor of the cabins (Davidson 2007:99). Fig. 5.6 Blue beads recovered from beneath cabin floors, Sapelo Island (Davidson 2007: 100-101) Analyzing Tangible Heritage These four sites suggest the presence of tangible heritage, of material expressions of Muslim identity. More may be found in the grey literature of CRM (cultural resource management) reports and unacknowledged in ar tifact lists in other publications (Baram 2009: personal communication). Glass beads are one of the few types of artifacts which reflect expressions of Muslim identity about which scholars have made suggestions. Blue Beads Blue beads are consistently represente d more often than any other bead color on African-American sites. Glass b eads are usually recovered in small quantities, yet it has become apparent that they are typical of African-Ameri can sites (Stine et al. 1996, Russell 1997). The following is my exploration of blue beads as tangible heritage. The tradition of Islam, as well as other trad itions present in West Africa during the 16th-19th centuries will be considered in terms of th eir significance for informing the creation and shaping on this tangible heritage.
99 Stine et al. (1996), while undertaking an evaluation of assumptions concerning blue as the most common bead color on slave sites and the assertion that these objects were symbolically laden for African Ameri cans, assembled a data set based on bead distribution. They found blue to be the most consistent ly occurring, most uniformly represented bead color at African-American s ites across the United States, even when it is not always the most prevalent bead color at each site (1996:50). After assembling this data, the group chose to consid er the numbers for South Carolina and Georgia in greater detail. The beads were considered based on th eir frequency, color, and temporal and spatial context. Blue beads comprise 36 percent of the total sample for plantation sites in South Carolina and Georgia (1996:52). They were found to be much more prevalent during the colonial and antebe llum periods than after the Ci vil War. Analysis indicates that blue beads were predominantly lost or intentionally placed in and around AfricanAmerican residences. The prevalence of blue beads at African -American sites has been interpreted in several ways. The trend has been toward interpretations which favor beads as symbolically meaningful, rather than as excl usively for adornment. There is some debate as to whether this trend is grounded in historic validity or if the meaning being assigned to beads is merely a creation of archaeologists (Stine et al. 1996:49). Stine et al.s (1996) interpretation is based upon five interrelated facts: (1) between the 16th and 19th centuries Central and West African cultural groups used beads, in addition to other items, for adornment and as personal charms for protection from misfortune and illness; (2) these African-derived practices were in turn transplanted and reinterpreted by African Ameri cans in the South; (3) enslaved African Americans participated in informal economies that provided limited access to material goods such as beads; (4) belief in the evil eye was present among slaves in the study region; and (5) the color blue, a
100 recurring and abundantly document ed motif in African-American folklore along the Sea Islands, is considered to be a potent form of spiritual protection (49). Each of these components is necessary for a discussion of blue beads as a manifestation of the materiality of African American spirituality. African American participation in informal economies and associ ations with belief in the evil eye are specifically useful fo r this discussion. Stine et al. begin by presenting the de mographics. By their sources, of the estimated 10 million Africans brought to the Americas from the 16th through the mid19th centuries, approximately 40 percent originated in Kon go and Angola, from tribes such as the Ibo, Ewe, Biafada, Bakongo, Wolo f, Bambara, Ibibio, Serer, and Arada (1996:53). Specific origins, as opposed to region al ones, are difficult to reconstruct. Slave traders and holders were aware of ethnic differences, and are sa id to have often broken up families and those belonging to the same ethnic groups (1996:53). Due to these demographics, Stine et al. find that African-American culture in the South during the era of slaver y should therefore be regard ed as a fusion of Africaninspired cultural forms and practices, expect ing bead use to repr esent a pan-cultural phenomenon derived from African origins (1996:53). This is a valid proposition, mirroring studies whose concern is creolization or Fennels (2007) ethnogenic bricolage They concede it is reasonable that beliefs a nd practices associated with beads survived the Middle Passage, albeit undergoing a transf ormation in the contexts of Southern enslavement, yet assert It is not only di fficult but counterproductive to attempt to identify direct, one-to-one correspondences be tween artifact patterning and artifact types at specific plantation site s and specific ethnic groups in Africa (1996:53). The decisiveness of this statement is questionabl e in light of the stor y of Bilali and his
101 descendents using beads during prayer at the Spalding Plan tation on Sapelo Island (see Chapter 3). A review of some secular and religious uses of beads in West Central Africa coinciding with the period of th e slave trade is beneficial for this consideration of beads as tangible heritage. In the pa st and the present, beads have been used for adornment in West Africa. They may also convey social meaning and information concerning wealth, age grade, marital status, artistic attitudes, and political, religious, and cultural affiliation, be important trade items or used as curre ncy, but also held sp iritual significance, associated with ceremonies such as rites of passage, religious pr actice, or worn as amulets and charms (1996:53). It is tempting, due to the demographic re alities outlined above, to simplify what was actually a rich mosaic of cultural traditio ns in West Africa during the modern period. Beads would not have communicated the same messages throughout the region. They would not have held the same meaning from pl ace to place. Nevertheless, it is true that beads were often used for making amulets and charms. Charms may manifest in a variety of form s, spoken or material. Stine et al relate that charms, amulets, and fetishes are any material object thought to contain spiritual power, but are principally of two types, personal (worn aroun d the neck, arm, wrist, or ankle to protect the wearer) and household (placed on the house or property to protect the structure, contents, and re sidents) amulets (1996:54). Ch arms may not be material manufactured exclusively for this purpos e, but instead, mundane material culture reinterpreted and shaped by pa rticular beliefs. Items used in West Africa for these
102 purposes may include beads, animal bones or teeth, stones, iron, broken pottery, feathers, bits of skin, leaves, hair, and fingernails (1996:54). Thus, in West Africa, beads were often used as amulets or charms to achieve protection. Stine et als study, among others (Russell 1997, Adams 1987) indicates blue beads are associated with African-American site s, and that further inquiry into the role these artifacts played in the lives of Af rican Americans is a propitious endeavor. Before I turn to an exploration of the meaning and us es of blue beads in West Africa and the Americas, a discussion concerni ng the participation of enslaved persons in an informal economy to obtain items such as beads is in order. Enslaved African Americans may have obtained beads through purchasing them by way of their captors, through theft, as he irlooms from other captiv e Africans, or trade with merchants. They could also have manu factured their own. If individuals in the enslaved community had no autonomy in choos ing the material made available to them, then the distribution reflected by Stine et al. s study would reflect only the tastes of their captors, or the choices made available by merchants (1996:54). The available data suggests that slaves were able to make choices concerning th eir material life, and those choices affected the supply made available by merchants. It is tempting to view enslaved i ndividuals as solely producers and never consumers. However, enslaved African Americans had multiple avenues by which to participate in purchasing and tr ade. Thus, Stine et al. find th at just as with trade with Native American and Euroamerican groups it is not unreasonable to infer that the distribution of beads character istic of African-American site s is likewise quite possibly
103 the result of cultural prefer ences and consumer choice rather than mere market availability (1996:57). As consumers maintaining various excha nge interactions, en slaved people of African descent had access, albeit differe ntial and circumscribed, to material goods (1996:59). At the Hermitage, Aaron E. Russell fi nds that the assemblage suggests African Americans there had fairly open access to beads, though no archaeological or documentary evidence reveals the method of acq uisition (1997:69). It is clear that these individuals had not only access to goods, but au tonomy in their decisions about what to purchase. This apparent autonomy is interesting in itself, but it may potentially have significance for interpretive efforts. If, as it appears, enslaved Af rican Americans were obtaining material with specifi c characteristics, then perhaps these artifacts should be evaluated in light of their pot ential social and symbolic significance. Beads may be one of many examples of comm onplace objects serving a spiritual purpose. Despite the intention of the objects manufacture, they may have been reinterpreted to serve as symbols for new purposes. I consider bead s the significance of beads due to their potential meaning associated with the us e of charms, and belief in the evil eye. The prevalent use of beads as charms in West Africa was noted above. Evidence of their use by enslaved indivi duals, especially in the sout hern United States, is abundant in the documentary and archaeological record s. Though they are discussed primarily in conjunction with the use of charms and spir it management, the use of beads for other purposes has been documented.
104 Interviews from the WPA (Works Pr ogress Administration) project which focused on recording the beliefs and practi ces of African Amer icans along coastal Georgia mention the use of prayer bead s by enslaved Muslim African Americans. These include memories of Bilali and his family using prayer beads on Sapelo Island by their descendents (Georgia Writers Project 1940: 184), as well as those related by a Mrs. Holmes, from Amite County, Mississippi, w ho remembers her grandfather praying on a long string of beads, after which he would th en put one of the b eads in a cup of tea which he said would cure rheumatism (quoted in Stine et al. 1996:62). As detailed in Chapter Two of this thesis, the Muslim co mmunity in Brazil is also documented as having used prayer beads. Stine et al, considering the African belief systems which may have informed meanings attributed to beads by enslaved individuals in the Americas, relate African and rural African-American belief systems were ch aracterized by an animistic orientation in which the world was inhabited by both beni gn and malign spirits, where individuals could both benefit and suffer from the whims of these forces, and conjurers were seen as powerful people who could control the supe rnatural (1996:60). Characterizing these belief systems as animist might seem to preclude the possibility of their being applied by Muslim, Jewish, or Christian practitioners. This is, however, far from the case. One explanation is that African converts to monotheistic religious traditions may have combined their traditional belief systems w ith the dominant system, borrowing what was considered desirable from each. Material cu lture reflecting emphasi s placed on spirit management predates these monotheistic religiou s traditions and exists in each of them. Christianity has historically recognized spirit possession. Con cerns about the evil eye in
105 Judaism are longstanding and widespread. Belief both in djinn and the evil eye are not rare in the Islamic world. One of the most significant sources documenting the concern with good and bad spiritual forces and means by which it was be lieved they could be managed come from projects commissioned by the Works Progress Administration. Personal charms in the South are recorded as having been worn on the neck, finger, wrist, wa ist, or ankle, tied or sewn to garments, and carried in the pocke ts, shoes, or hats, were used to prevent illness, ward away evil, and bring good luck in all aspects of life, and examples of personal charms consist of metal wire, heavy cord, or a leather strap worn on the ankle, wrist, or neck, nutmeg worn on a string around th e neck to cure headaches, and a silver coin worn around the ankle, neck, or in th e shoe (1996:60). These reported uses bear remarkable resemblance to descriptions of charm and amulet use in West Africa during the period of the transatlantic slave trade. They appear to embody a transmitted tangible heritage into the twentieth century. Household charms were also used; they were intentionally placed in various places around the house, including under or near doorsteps, under the bed or pillow, on a gatesill or doorsill, or over th e door (Stine et al. 1996:60). Many of artifacts from the four sites discussed above, particularly blue glass beads, were found in contexts which Stine et al. (1996) mention are typical of household charms. The blue beads from the Hermitage, Sapelo Island, and the Kingsley Plantation were recovered in household contexts. In a ddition, each blue bead found at the Kingsley Plantation was recovered from the context of a doorway. It seems unlikely that this is coincidence, particularly given the fact that the beads were placed below the tabby floor
106 of the structure, rather than lost during occupation of the ca bins. Another interesting facet of the Kingsley finds is that each of the blue beads is of a different manufacture. For the excavator, James Davidson, this suggests that these beads were selected from various sources and suppliers for their color, culled from a variet y of colors (2007:99). Some effort was expended in order to procure a blue bead for each doorway. The use of blue beads or the color blue as protection against the evil eye exemplify charms used for protection or risk management. Both beads and hand charms may have held significant meaning associated with beliefs about the evil eye. In turn, it is worthwhile to consider the poten tial of these beliefs about the evil eye in the context of a larger system of beliefs be longing to a Muslim tradition. The evil eye as a folk belief complex is quite widespread, though it may not appear the same way in every culture in which it is found. And at the same time, it is less a belief in a single phenomenon than the core of a belief complex (Herzfeld 1981). It is prevalent in the Middle Ea st and Mediterranean, is f ound from India to Ireland, was carried in the minds of immigrants to the Am ericas, and is mentioned in the Bible as well as in Sumerian and other ancient near-eastern texts (making it at the least more than five thousand years old) (Dundes 1992:vii). Evil eye beliefs may be best explored when situated in their social context. At a general level, however, a descri ption is needed. Simply defi ned, belief in the evil eye implies an acceptance of the notion that an individuals gaze may cause harm or misfortune to befall another individual or their property, as well as that such an individuals bestowal of pr aise on another person or th eir belongings may warrant the same sort of damage.
107 Michael Herzfeld (1981) explores the ev il eye as a dominant symbol in a Greek village in terms of beliefs about misfortune and finds these beliefs are inextricably connected to ideas about causation, and chance or fate. Herzfeld has usefully demonstrated the effectiveness of an approach which treats the formal symbolic system as a code from which individual behaviors those of accusers and accused alike derive their meaning (1981:561). Beliefs about the evil eye, situated in the context of a broader Muslim tradition, may explain behaviors re lated to bead acquisition and use among enslaved African American communities. The presence of blue beads on African-American sites has been interpreted to be indicative of the evil eye belief by William Adams (1987) during investigations of the plantation at Kings Bay, Camden County, Geor gia. The evil eye belief complex did not appear among Christian Euroamericans. Only among Italians in the 1880s and Israelis in the 1980s, can it appear in non-African tradit ions (Baram 2009:personal communication). Multiple lines of evidence point to the pe rsistence of beliefs in the evil eye among enslaved Africans and African Americans. A ccording to Stine et al., these include the presence of practicing Muslim slaves (which this thesis details), historical references to the evil eye, and archaeol ogical evidence (1996:62). As a result of the Georgia Writers Proj ect (1940), as well as others, there has been much discussion of the development and na ture of Gullah culture. This is evident in the framing of Ray Crooks (2008) discussion of the arch aeological finds at Sapelo Island. It would be worthy to consider, however that Islam may have been an influential tradition on the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina which has gone unrecognized in considerations of the form ation of Gullah culture. I conc ur with historian Michael A.
108 Gomezs assertion that the history of African s in this region is more complicated than previously understood; its study can no l onger be limited to the Gullah language and associated handicrafts and artifacts, not withstanding their importance (2005:79). On St. Helena Island, South Carolina, a reconstruction-era schoolteacher recorded that the Gullah believe in the evil eye, and also in the power of a good eye for healing, and a Georgia Writers Project informant in the 1930s reported that some AfricanAmerican residents of Edisto Island, would rather encounter the devil himself than the [witches] known as hags, for if one of them s hould cast her eye in their direction bad luck would overtake them. Some believe that a ha g can bewitch a person by merely looking at them. This is known as the evil eye and is very much feared (quoted in Stine et al. 1996:61). It may be the influence of a Muslim tradition which inspired these beliefs. Interestingly, Stine et al. claim The fi rmest archaeological evidence to date for the presence of the evil eye be lief at a single plantation has perhaps been recovered from the Hermitage in Nashville, recognizing th e predominance of blue beads and the three brass hand charms which figure prominently in the evil eye complex (1996:61,62). As with other sites, if enslav ed African Americans were autonomously obtaining these beads, they would have affected the supply o ffered by traders and merchants. It is likely these characteristics were considered de sirable because they conveyed particular meanings. Aaron E. Russell suggests Even if bead choice and distribution at the Hermitage was entirely in the hands of the Jacksons, the pa rticular beads selected may represent the continuation of a previous trade negotia tion between Europeans and Africans, and if the beads were acquire d by African Americans independently, it
109 demonstrates their participation in the loca l economy, as well as their choice to expend limited economic resources on beads (1997:71). Hand Charms Hand charms were discovered at the Hermitage, as well as Poplar Forest. I suggest that like blue beads, these ha nd charms are one of many examples of commonplace objects serving a spiritual pur pose. Despite the intention of their manufacture, in the hands of enslaved Afri can Americans their meaning may have been transformed. They would have become symbols serving new purposes, such as the ability to ward off evil. The similarity of these charms to the Islamic symbol known as the Hand of Fatima has been recognized by Sa muel Smith (in Russell 1997:67). However, many religious traditions inco rporate symbols of hands, a nd these particular artifacts were very likely manufactured for a mundane, rather than a spiritual purpose. Christopher Fennel (2007) has reviewed tr aditions which may have inspired the use of hand charms by enslaved African Americans. He finds The examples of items with a hand set inside a circle were most lik ely a form of manufactur ed ornament referred to as "stampings," which were sewn onto clothing and accessories as adornments or used as part of hook-and-eye fa steners (72). The hands on the right and in the center of the photograph from the Hermitage (Figure 5.5) are examples. He interprets the other example from the Hermitage as a manufactur ed watch charm or jewelry charm, since jewelry manufacturers often used symbolic motifs derived from religious beliefs or from the emblems of benevolent societies and guilds when creating design motifs for massproduced and commercialized charms and ornaments (2007:72).
110 The hand charms have also been compared to figas commonly found on Spanish and Brazilian colonial sites in the Americas. Figas were probably used as votives to ward away evil, and though the charms from th e Hermitage do not match the form of figas, their symbolic meanings may have been similar (Thomas 1998:546). Regardless of the terminology used, this indicates multiple inte rpretations which have suggested that the hands served as charms to ward off evil, akin to belief in the evil eye. The precise motivations for enslaved Afri can Americans acquisition and use of items such as blue beads and metal hand charms are unknown. However, given the considerations outlined above, I think it is reasonable to view them in terms of tangible Muslim heritage. Various traditions came together in environments of captivity, of hostility, in the Americas. It w ould have been a complex envi ronment in which to attempt to communicate ones identity, where the term s of negotiating identities could not, at least initially, be mutually accepted upon. Aaron E. Russell finds A consequence of this experience was that previous and specific cu ltural elements were selected, rejected, modified, and magnified by African American s and a largely uniform African-American culture emerged, and he finds this partic ularly true for coastal South Carolina and Georgia (1997:65), as doe s Leland Ferguson (1992). In the captive environment, identities and the subtleties of the means of understanding and conveying those identities ha d to be reevaluated before effective communication could take place. Drawing on widely understood symbolic expressions, such as the use of blue to ward off the evil eye, may have been a tangible way to express ones fundamental beliefs about how to negotiate the world. Again, as Christopher Fennel states, an object emits a stylistic message rep eatedly and constantly as it is displayed to
111 an audience that understands the language of the style (2007:40). Beads, hand charms, and similar material culture may have b een one way to communicate an intragroup affiliation in the intergroup environment of captivity. After reviewing the above considerations, I suggest that for an archaeo logy concerned with th e lives of enslaved African Americans and their iden tities, a Muslim tradition is a viable system of meaning for interpreting a portion of the recovered materi al culture at sites of their enslavement in the Americas. Applying a model for Diaspora Analysis to the enslaved experience and material culture expressions in New York The remainder of this chap ter is devoted to examining objects recovered at a site of African American enslavement on Long Island, their contexts, and what is known about the sites occupants. Up until this point all the artifacts considered in this thesis and available publications were recovered on southern plantations. Yet slavery was not just a southern institution. Compared to the South, slavery in the nor th typically occurred on a smaller scale (slave owners tended to own fewer slaves th an their southern c ounterparts). However, slavery was a part of everyday life in th e North. Of the enslaved African American experience in the North, Ira Berlin suggests, While small numbers and close proximity to whites forced blacks to conform to the fo rms of the dominant Euro-American culture, the confidence of whites in th eir own hegemony allowed black slaves a good measure of autonomy (1993:122). Thus slavery in the North should not be seen as a guarantee of acculturation to European Ameri can beliefs and life ways. James Garman (1998) has addressed a co mmon misconception about the nature of captivity in the New England which may well ap ply to the North as a whole. According
112 to Garman, The history of the color lin e in New England is hindered by a biased documentary record, an archaeological record still in its infancy, the pervasive influence of Colonial Revival antiquaries whose racist work shaped the views of generations of white New Englanders (1998:134). I have witne ssed the effect of this dynamic, both in my primary education on African enslavement in North America and as a college student spending a summer in New York excavating at a site once home to enslaved African Americans. Robert Fitts (1998) recognizes it as well. He found that at the end of the twentieth century, some prominent historians stil l argued that New England slavery was characterized by a relatively mild form of servitude and a kind of household kinship (1998:3). Unfortunately, this pr esentation of northern slavery continues into the twentyfirst century. The interpretation is a nineteen th-century creation which has been repeated so often that it is generally accepted. Slavery in the North, as it was in the South, was first and foremost a system of coerced labor. Fitt s stresses that it was characterized by the conflict between the masters desire to cont rol their slaves and th e bondsmens resistance to this domination, and laments that for a variety of political, social and intellectual reasonsnineteenth and twentieth century hi storians created a sa nitized history of Northern slavery which removed this i nherent conflict (1998 :3). During the presentation of the case below, one should bear in mind both the nature of slavery in the North and the legacy of scholars construing enslavement in this region as a mild form of servitude or a kind of household kinship. Lattings Hundred
113 I will focus on two strands of beads found at a house known as Lattings Hundred in Huntington, New York. The beads were shown to me by the houses resident and owner, a local historian named Reginald Met calf, who was kind enough to give a tour of his home to the summer 2008 Hofstra Universi ty field crew of the Joseph Lloyd Manor archaeological site. Huntington can appear at once to be a sleepy Long Island town and a bustling one, made so by those attracted to the myri ad shops and eateries downtown. There are ordinary pizza and coffee shops, some high-e nd stores, some locally-owned, an array of ethnic cuisine, and the requisite international chains. The north side of town leads along a winding road with views of Long Island Sound, to Lloyd Harbor, named for the Joseph Lloyd Manor site where I participated in a Hofstra University field school during the summer of 2008. Dawdle in town and youll di scover that some very old structures survive, such as the Arsenal, built a bout 1740. You may encount er the Old Burying Ground, an old and crowded cemetery. Deaths heads, cherubs, urns, and willows are on display. It is rife with poison ivy in the summer It is here that we, that is Jenna Coplin and Chris Matthews of Hofstra University, a nd the other students and I met Rex Metcalf. It was afternoon, and Rex led us on a tour of the cemetery, outlining Huntingtons history as he went. Since 8 th at morning, before our rendez-vous with Rex, we had toured another manor house preserved by the Lloyd Har bor Historical Society, and then spent the day hiking Camusett State Park. We trekke d approximately five miles, one of which was rocky coastline, in an effort to gain a better sense of the land once owned by Joseph Lloyd, whose backyard we were excavating. Among the clear blue sky, salt marshes, woods, fields, and the harbor, we may well have found the most breathtaking part of
114 Long Island. We were not, however, all wear ing appropriate footwear for such an excursion. Upon meeting up with Rex, we manage d to pay rapt attention, listening as he detailed Huntingtons military encounters with the British, and introdu cing us to some of the more colorful characters laid to rest in the cemetery. By the time we reached his house, weariness was descending heavily on our limbs. Rex has lived at Lattings Hundred his w hole life, preserving th e first floor of the house and its many artifacts, as well as offering tours of it, serving as historian as his father did before him. The house has a rich history. For example, when enslaved people were to be officially manumitted in Huntington, they came to Lattings Hundred. As Rex relates, they walked in the back door as slaves and out the front door as free men and women. So goes the oral tradition. Lattings Hundred began as a one-room plan in 1653. A five-room addition was later added, resulting in a saltbox dwelling in 1702. It is not, however, a typical New England saltbox house, which would feature a central chimney with a central lean-to kitchen, flanked by a buttery eastward a nd a bedroom westward, and a main winding stairwell that runs from atti c to cellar. A Long Island variant, Lattings Hundred features end chimneys with a central lean-to buttery, flanked by a ki tchen eastward and a bedroom westward, and a main winding stairwell that do es not go to the cellar. The house is named for Richard Latting, for whom the house was or iginally built. He was banished from Huntington in 1660 for political trou ble making and general unpopularity. Over the years, the house changed hands. Most relevant for this discussion are the Scudder, Lewis and Platt families, related through marriage and intimately connected with the enslaved occupants of the house. Thanks to the sensibilities of the Lewis family
115 in particular, a significant amount is known for the 18th century onward through family papers, furniture, artifacts and oral hist ory. Letters and stories of the children and grandchildren of Abigail Scudder Lewis have been able to provide intimate family information. Rachel grew up enslaved by the Lewis family with her brother Sampson. The Lewis children could not remember the names of Sampson and Rachels parents, only that they were both born in Africa. They were brought to Long Island shortly before 1710, after living on the island of Barbados for a few years. They were approximately 20 years old when they arrived in Huntin gton, and had both passed away by 1750. Rachel was raised by her African-born parents. He r childhood would have afforded them ample opportunity to impart to her their memo ries of African religion and culture. The Lewis family claimed that Abiga il Scudder and Rachel were born on the same day, April 25, 1713, but there is no known original document to prove it. Abigail and Rachel were life-long companions. Shor tly before Abigails marriage to Captain Joseph Lewis, Esq. in 1731, Rachel was given to her as a servant. Rachel was eighteen, and had an infant son named Peter. Subsequently, they left the Scudder homestead and established the Lewis household at Lattings Hundred in Huntington. Captain Lewis was purportedly a hard master. He established an inn at Lattings Hundred in 1757, and delegated its manageme nt to Abigail and Rachel. Rachel had already established herself as an authority fi gure in the eyes of the Lewis children, and helped Abigail run the Inn w ith a firm hand. Peter, her son, grew up with the Lewis children, was educated with his mother and became butler of the household.
116 Captain Lewis died in 1765, at which point his son Joseph Jr. inherited his extensive merchant empire. Abigail and Rachel continued to be re sponsible for the Inn and household, while Joseph focused on running a shipping business, general store, two grist mills, paper mill and some farmland. Joseph and Peter were conscripted by Br itish occupation troops to transport sick soldiers to the hospital in 1781. Less than three weeks later they both contracted smallpox. On the same day, Abigail Scudder Lewi s and Rachel lost their sons. They died at Lattings Hundred on September 24, 1781. Abigail did not recover from the loss and succumbed to dementia. The estate was inherited by Abigails grandsons, Joseph C. a nd Richard Lewis. Due to their youth, their eldest uncle, Henry S. Lewis, was granted power of attorney to help manage the legal and business affairs of Henry, Joseph, and his inca pacitated mother, which he did from his home nearby in the town of Centerport. Thus, Rachel became the force necessary to hold the family together from day to day. She wa s entrusted with the continued maintenance of the Inn and household. Peter and Joseph, Abigail, and finally Rachel were buried together in the Old Burying Ground. It lies just half a mile to the West of Lattings Hundred, the site of our rendez-vous with Rex. I will not relate here a tour of the house in full. Rather, I will discuss the events in the parlor, and then return to other finds of interest from Lattings Hundred. The parlor was the second to last room with which Rex would acquaint us. As we reclined, Rex related that during renovations made to th e house, an unusual find was made. He then removed two long strands of glass beads. They were strung like necklaces, though where they were joined or tied together was not immediately evident. One was comprised
117 primarily of clear, circular, sl ightly flattened beads, interspe rsed at intervals with bright blue translucent beads of the same make. Th e other strand appeared of the same length, yet it was the reverse of the fi rst, comprised primarily of the same blue, translucent beads, and interspersed at intervals with clear beads. The necklaces, as Rex identified them, had lain on top of the northwest end wall sill, ju st behind the parlor chimney stack, in a small open area accessible at head height in the ce llar. They were discove red during repairs in 1978 to the 18th Century exterior weatherboard siding. The room of weary students showed po lite interest. I believe the lack of excitement over the find was due not to any fa ult in Rexs ability to be an engaging host, for he is one. He is an excellent storyteller, and overflowing with intriguing facts. No, as the field crew looked at the bead s, they were intere sted. It is just th at the last ounce of their energy had simply already been expended. It was lingering on a deaths heads and cherubs in the cemetery, or wondering whether they would live to regret not taking better care to avoid all that poison ivy. The field crew was interested. I was more than interested. I wanted to know wh at they were and what they meant. They seemed familiar. Beads The two strands of beads were discovered behind the chimney in a gradually accumulating layer of dust and dirt with no other artifacts (see photograph, Figure 5.7). They are similar in form. The first consists of 99 glass beads, arranged in 9 sets of 10 blue beads, with every elev enth bead being a colorless or white bead. The second numbers 102 beads, strung primarily in groups of 10, but also of 11, clear beads, with every eleventh or twelfth bead being a blue bead. They are smooth, flattened, and oval in shape. They were strung with linen thread, though this was ruined by dry rot. The beads
118 were washed and restrung in their original order (Metcalf November 2008: personal communication). Fig. 5.7 Strands of beads found at Lattings Hundred, Huntington, New York (Photograph by author) The extensive information concerning the beads manufacture which is related here was obtained by Rex Metcalf. The bead s are English, and made of Flint Glass, which was invented by George Ravenscroft in 1676. They consist of a mixture of sand, potash and lead oxide, and were an impr ovement over Venetian Soda Glass which required a higher firing temperat ure and was more brittle a nd prone to oxidize. Blue beads were colored by adding the proper amount of cobalt oxide to the mix, while clear, also called white beads were rendered colorless by adding the proper amount of manganese oxide to the mix. No two beads were identical, but they we re intended to measure three eighths inch long by one-quarter inch wide by one-eighth inch thick. Flow marks and tiny bubbles are
119 visible in the glass. First they were molded in long, narrow molds with the addition of a wire to form the thread holes. Then they we re removed from the mold and dumped into a cube shaped box with fine sand and tumbled to remove any burrs and rough spots. At length they were sifted out and annealed in a special chamber of the furnace to give them their luster. The beads were introduced around 1680, began to fall in favor after 1750, and went out of production about 1830. Precise dati ng is impossible given their lack of context since there were no ch anges in their form or met hod of manufacture throughout their period of production. They were available in general stores and traded to Native American groups, but were vastly outnumbered by Venetian and Du tch trade beads, which dominated the African and American Indian Trade. They we re sold individually or sometimes strung into six foot fathoms. They were usually used for necklaces and bracelets, but fathoms were occasionally wrapped around the waist and tied. Some portraits of Eastern Woodland people appear to show beads of the same form (Metcalf November 2008: personal communication). With questions lingering, we moved to our tours final destination. Here we learned that also during renovations of the house, what is believed to have been a minkisi bundle was found. The use of minkisi is associated with the BaKongo people in their negotiation with spirits, and employed by ritual specialis ts. The items which make up minkisi are imbued with metonymic (having a literal and tangible re lationship with the subject it is employed to represen t) and metaphoric meanings, and a nkisi (singular of
120 minkisi ) usually consisted of a container, such as a bag or a jar, and was animated by the powers represented by the objects which made up the minkisi (Fennel 2007:57). Artifacts interpreted as minkisi are being recovered at s ites and appearing in the archaeological literature with increasing fr equency. Perhaps the most recent example is the clay bundle recovered in October of 2008 by the archaeologists at the University of Maryland under the direction of Mark Leone. Dating to 1700, it is filled with lead shot, iron nails, copper pins and a stone axe, and was found on what would have been a street surface in Annapolis, Maryland (Wilford 2008). On e of the interpretations of the object being considered is that it was insp ired by BaKongo reli gious practices. Back at Lattings Hundred, we passed th rough the kitchen, adja cent to the buttery. The artifacts which comprise the bundle we re located on top of a central sill which formed the front side of a hatchway to the cellar. The hatchway was located on the threshold between the buttery and the kitchen, in the southwest corner. It allowed access to an enclosed ladder stairwell to the cella r below. The artifacts were wedged closely together, between the sill and the flooring. After being hidden in this space, a piece of homespun linen was rolled up and stuffed in to place to conceal the artifacts. The architectural context survived undisturbed unt il 1978, when extensive dry rot forced the Metcalfs to make repairs. The artifacts were discovered and saved under the assumption that they were placed there by carpenters. The items found include: 2 bent iron nails with simple curve; 2 matched brass waistcoat buttons; 1 flat bone disc button; 1 glass Indian Trade seed bead with red exterior over white core; 2 bent iron nails with compound curve; 2 bent brass handheaded pins; 1 small scallop shell; 1 upholster y tack with brass head and iron shank; 1
121 sliver of rawhide; 2 shards of green bottle glass; 2 shards of salt glazed stoneware with cobalt blue spirals over white clay body; 1 quartz crystal spearhead with broken point (Native American Archaic Period). The items are dateable to the eighteenth century. What they symbolize, if anything is unknown, but a descri ption and photograph of the artifacts, as well as information detailing their provenience has been forwarded to Dr. Warren R. Perry of Central Connecticut State University for further consideration. The buttery served as storage for va rious foods and kitchen apparatus. Rex explained some of these, and further gr ounded our knowledge of Joseph Lloyd Manor in a broader understandi ng of Long Island, early Huntington, an d in essence, the world that the Lloyds and those enslaved by them were pa rt of. He showed us examples of local pottery from various periods and some exam ples of what was commonly imported from England. Seeing whole pieces which resemble the fragments we were pulling from the ground was valuable to our understanding of the material we were excavating. We thanked Rex and went our separate ways from Latting s Hundred. We would meet again the next day in Lloyd Harbor as us ual, ready to excavate. That night I loaded all the pictures I had taken onto my computer I pulled up the picture I had taken of the beads, enlarged it, and carefully counted each strand. The blue strand contained exactly ninety-nine beads. They did look like pr ayer beads, Muslim prayer beads. Enslaved identity at Lattings Hundred The most likely candidates for the presence of the artifacts rec overed at Lattings Hundred, both what has been presented as a minkisi bundle and the two strands of beads, are Rachel and her son Peter. If the artifac ts reflect the expression of a West African tradition, they were more likely placed by Rach el. As previously stated, she was raised by
122 both her African parents, and resided at the house for many more years than Peter. Lewis family papers from the eighteenth century suggest that the parents of Rachel and her brother Sampson were Coromantee. The term Coromantee has been interpreted in a variety of ways. It is associat ed with a faction of the Asanti Empire (part of present day Ghana). Coromantee as a designation, however, may have been placed on any enslaved person place on a ship embarking from the port of Koromantin. T hus, though Rachel and Sampsons parents origins lie somewhere along the Gold Coast, their heritage remains somewhat elusive. Sampson apparently became a devout Christian. He is reco rded as having voluntarily sought and been gr anted full membership at the Old First Church of Huntington, New York. No such conversion seems to have occurred in Rachel. She and her parents remained unbaptized throughout thei r lives. Rex Metcalf believes she clung to a BaKongo spirituality imparted by her parents, and that the archaeological evidence of the Minkisi (Nkisi) Bundle and the two strands of blue and white beads found at Lattings Hundred points directly to her. Conclusion I suggest that the enslaved individual s at Lattings Hundred may have been influenced by a Muslim tradition. Convi ncing cases have been made where the interpretation of the archaeo logical record espoused expres sions of BaKongo spirituality and identity. However, the application of th is interpretation to Lattings Hundred raises two concerns. The recognition of the persis tence of African spiritual beliefs among enslaved populations in America, and th e number of studies concerned with the phenomenon is encouraging. Leland Fergusons (1992) Uncommon Ground, which
123 explored the use of African-American pottery and other artifacts in wa ys consistent with BaKongo spiritual beliefs and practices, was a landmark work. However, I am concerned about the trend toward reading any apparent expression of African spirituality in the archaeological record as an expression of BaKongo beliefs. Not only because this may preclude the interpretation of these expressions as reflecti ons of any other tradition (my first concern), but also because it limits inte rpretations by forcing them to be consistent with one or another tradition or system of beliefs. This conflic ts directly with the notions of creolization or Christopher Fennels ethnogenic bricolage It is too conv enient and too simplistic. In order to evaluate the interpretation of the artifacts rec overed at Lattings Hundred as expressions of cultural identity or a system of belief, I return to Christopher Fennels model for Diaspora analysis. Now that I have introduced vari ous sites associated with African and/or African American enslavem ent and artifacts of interest recovered at each, I devote the next chapter to reflecti on, evaluating whether the symbolic expression of Muslim traditions in contexts of captivit y is a persuasive basis for interpreting their meaning and significance.
124 CHAPTER VI: INTERPRETING MATERIAL EXPRESSIONS OF IDENTITY Dont read what we have written; look at what we have done James Deetz The historical archaeologist James Deet z considers material culture the most immediate source of information we have c oncerning Americas past. He suggests If we bring to this world, so reflective of the past a sensitivity to the meaning of the patterns we see in it, the artifact becomes a primar y source of great objec tivity and subtlety (Deetz 1996:259). Moving beyond the documentary record, archaeologists may find in the seemingly banal remnants of everyday life in the past meaningful material with which people shaped their lives. And yet, a fram ework is necessary to guide and weigh the strength of these interpretations. In Crossroads and Cosmologies (2007), Christopher Fennel pr esents what he calls a model for Diaspora analysis, essentia lly guidelines for interpreting cultural expressions in the archaeological record. Fennel uses a particular African cultural tradition, BaKongo, to demonstrate this model. Theoretically the approach should be feasible for inquiries into the cultural expres sions of other traditions in Diaspora. In this chapter I apply Fennels model to material culture recovered at Lattings Hundred in Huntington, New York. I consider an interpreta tion of artifacts at this site and others which views them as material cultur e expressions of Muslim identity. Fennel states that, in the absence of direct evidence linking occupants of the site(s) of interest with indi viduals known to have been enculturated in the belief system of interest, an analyst should formulate an explicit interpretive framework based on an ethnohistorical analogy (2007:47). This model a llows for the systematic comparison of the ethnohistorical information concerning the tradition of Is lam in West Africa with the recovered material culture evidence. In chapter two I laid the groundwork for
125 constructing this analogy by exploring the materiality of Muslim identity and how it might manifest in the archaeo logical record. Ideally the so urce or basis of the analogy should be a detailed account of the beliefs a nd practices of the culture with which one is concerned in one place and time. In this way, th e attributes of the source of the analogy and the one under archaeological scrutiny may be directly compared and contrasted. The first step in constructing the ethnohi storical analogy is to demonstrate that the cultural system selected to provide the s ource information is relevant to the subject of material culture to which it will be applied (2007:47). I have noted previously that large numbers of enslaved individuals were take n from areas where Islam was the dominant religious tradition or from ar eas where they would have been exposed to it. These individuals formed a significant part of the enslaved population, some estimate 10-15 percent. On this basis I contend that an Islamic cultural system present in West Africa during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries is re levant to the material culture of sites of African captivity in the Americas. Ideally the basis of my ethnohistorical analogy would be a detailed account of the beliefs and practices of several Muslim citie s in West Africa duri ng the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Focusing on just one si te might be too limiting given the sizeable geographic area from which Africans were ta ken captive. And yet, though sources such as Terry Alfords (1986) biographical work on the life of Ibrahima Abd ar Rahman details specifically the establishment of the Fulbe in Futa Jallon, Ibrahimas education in Timbo and later at Macina and Timbuktu, and even the atmosphere of Timbuktu, he does not write of the small things. Perhaps he, as I, simply did not have access to details of the personal practices of West African Muslims during the transatlantic slave trade. Did
126 Ibrahima or his mother, or his siblings, carry blue beads to ward off the evil eye? It is likely we will never know, yet it is reasonabl e to infer that the answer is yes. Thus, the source of my analogy is based on the basic pillars a nd proscriptions of the Islamic faith which guide and shape Muslim practice worldwide. I rely on this in conjunction with the evidence of Muslim pr actice among enslaved African Americans in the Americas which has survived in the docum entary record. As I outlined in a previous chapter, Leone and Potter (1988) offer a method in which the documentary record may be used to create descriptive grids against whic h the archaeological record may be arrayed. The comparison and contrast of attributes of the source of the anal ogy with the artifacts in Fennels model mirrors this method. I dr aw on the archaeology of Islam and the history of enslaved African Muslims in America as the source of my analogy. In chapter three I presented some gui delines for observing the materiality of Muslim identity. I have also provided a ba sis for understanding Islam, including a description of the Five Pillars of the faith: the shahadah (profession of faith), salat (prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm (fasting), and the hajj (pilgrimage). The only material evidence for the shahadah may be inscriptions. Arguably, any tangible heritage created by a Muslim reflects the shahadah, as it reinforces their very identity as a Muslim. T hough it does not require it, salat may be reflected by a variety of material culture. Salat may be evident architect urally, in places of prayer or structures with an eastern orientation or feature denoting the direction of Mecca. Prayer mats or rugs, if they survive archaeologically, are an indication of this activity. Additionally, strings of beads may be indicative of pray er beads. These are certainly recoverable archaeologically. Zakat could be evident in inscripti ons, and potentially recognized by
127 the presence of currency or othe r valuables in given contexts. Hajj is recognizable by architecture associated with pilgrims, such as hostels, as well as routes, wells, or milestones (Insoll 2003:13). It is improbable that sawm (fasting) would be rec ognizable archaeologically; however adherence to some Muslim proscripti ons concerning diet may be identifiable with the aid of zooarchaeol ogical evidence. In circumstances where significant faunal remains are recovered in a c ontext of African American enslavement and pig bones are entirely lacking, the ab sence may reasonably be considered significant. It should certainly be considered potentially meaningful if it is corroborated by other material evidence indicating a Muslim presence, or direct documentary evidence linking Muslim individuals to the site. The next step is to apply the source to the artifacts and context to determine the degree to which the attributes of the source pr ovide a closeness of f it for interpreting the meaning and significance of those object s (Fennel 2007:49). With the above considerations and the informa tion presented in previous ch apters, I intend to consider the objects from Lattings Hundred. Fennel argues that instrumental expressions of core symbols are more likely to have been used by individuals in enslaved communities than emblematic ones. Though prayer can, and often does occur in a group setting in Islam, it is just as common for it to be a solitary activity. The private and personal nature of the activity, however, does not preclude the use of associated material culture. Prayer rugs or mats ar e frequently used in Islam. As noted in chapter three, enslaved Muslims in Brazil were using them. They are an instrumental symbolic expression, since th ey are inextricably tied to ones prayer
128 activities and Muslim identity. They are not emblematic; they are not presented to the outside world as an identifying symbol of a group identity. This is also true of prayer beads. Strands of beads, typically numbering 99 or 100, are widespread in the tradition of Islam. The beads found at Lattings Hundred display attributes cons istent with Muslim spiritual expression. One strand consists of 99 beads, while the other is close, at one hundred and two. Timothy Insoll describes pr ayer beads as a comparatively rare example of Muslim religious paraphernalia, ex plaining that the simplicity of worship in Islam precludes a large body of ritual material culture (1999:117). They are not universally used, and thus should not be expe cted to be present at every site with a Muslim presence. They may be generally associated with Muslims, but also more specifically with certain groups such as Su fi orders, among which their use is very widespread (1999:118). An expl oration of the prevalence of Sufism in West Africa during the period of the transatlantic slave tr ade could be fruitful. Insoll concludes, Prayer beads thus provide another example of an object that is both intimate and yet specifically Muslim in character, individual in association, durable in nature and with definite archaeological implications (1999:118). The choice of the colors blue and clear (white) for the strands found at Lattings Hundred may also be meaningful. As pr eviously discussed, and as W.H. Adams suggested for the site of Kings Bay Plantation in Georgia, the presence of blue beads which seem to correlate with slave sites, coul d be related to their Islamic use as items to ward off the evil eye (Adams 1987:118). The combination of the use of blue beads,
129 associated with evil eye beliefs, and their form which is reminiscent of beads used during prayer, renders Islam a persuasive system of beliefs for interpreting these artifacts. The assortment of artifacts recovered from the sill of the hatchway leading to the cellar has been proposed as a minkisi bundle. If the assortment is a reflection of a Bakongo belief system, it is unlike traditional minkisi in that the objects were not placed within any kind of container to house the sp irit which was invoked. Of the objects found, some have been or are typically included in minkisi According to Fennel, quartz and shiny shells (whether the shell included f its this description is unknown) signified the water boundary between the living world and that of the spirits, nails or fragments of iron are sometimes used, and in relation to th e red seed bead, red was symbolic of transformation and movement between wo rlds (2007:58,61). Without convincing lines of supporting evidence which establish that the site was inhabited by individuals likely to have been enculturated in BaKongo beliefs, I remain wary of such an explanation for these objects. I suggest that the possibility of Islam having shaped material culture expressions at Lattings Hundred should be c onsidered in an interpretation of artifacts from the site. While I find an interpretation which views the beads at Lattings Hundred as material expressions of a Muslim identity persuasive (what Fennel would labe l tangible heritage), I can not conclude that they embody an inst rumental mode of symbolic expression. There are several reasons why drawing on Islam as a system of beliefs with which to understand the meaning and significance of the attributes of the objects may not provide the strongest interpretation.
130 The first is the source of the analogy, wh ich in this case is weak. Ideally it would consist of a thorough consideration of Islam as it was practiced in the West African polities in which it was prevalent and the ma teriality of Muslim identity as it manifested there. This would reveal the dynamics of the emblematic and instrumental symbolic expressions employed within the belief system. Further, the sources available fall short of definitively identifying where the parents and/ or grandparents of enslaved individuals at the site originated, even though they ar e given the designation Coromantee. And finally, the other inhabitants of the site, the Lewis family, and the belief system to which they subscribed should be taken into acc ount. The Lewis family was of EuropeanAmerican descent, yet their religious be liefs, if any, are unknown. The documentary record reveals no reason why one should susp ect any covert spiritual practices or expressions from the members of the Lewis family. There are not enough lines of evidence to support an interpre tation which views the objects from Lattings Hundred as material expressions of a Muslim tradition. An interpretation which views material culture su ch as beads and hands at sites of African enslavement (such as those described in the pr evious chapter) as ta ngible heritage of a Muslim tradition, however remains worthwhile. It is clear from the documentary reco rd that a significant number of those Africans enslaved in America were Mus lim. The ethnographic data detail beliefs concerning the evil eye among enslaved individua ls and their descendents, and the use of the color blue for protection as a facet of these beliefs. Archaeological evidence for the presence of evil eye beliefs is convincing, as Stine et al. (1996:61-62) find for the Hermitage, recognizing the predominance of bl ue beads and the three brass hand charms.
131 The similarity of these charms to the Isla mic symbol known as the Hand of Fatima is noticeable. Small, and known for their protective attr ibutes, these objects would have served as stylistic expressions, instrumental forms for private purposes, simultaneously communicating users beliefs and concerns about protection. The extent to which the beliefs and practices which produce such objects could have been observed was dependent in part on the degr ee to which plantation owners allowed or attempted to prevent enslaved persons from engaging in these behaviors. It is here that Fennels ethnogenic bricolage comes into play. Where individuals from different cultures were interacting in captive settings in the America, they would have ceased utilizing emblematic forms of the core symbols of their former culture groups, both due to their waning utility and impos ed restrictions by sl ave owners. Instead, instrumental expressions of those core sym bols would continue to be employed in for private use. Hand charms and blue glass beads may have served as material expressions of a Muslim tradition among enslaved African Muslims in America. These objects may have served a variety of functions, both for pers onal protection and to covey messages about identity. Their very presence indicates th at those interested in African Diaspora archaeology should acknowledge the influence of a Muslim tradition on the object of their study.
132 CHAPTER VII: CONCLUSION In the United States the gods of Afri ca died. This was Albert Raboteaus (1980:86) claim in his study of slave religion in the Americas, where he also contended that various forms of African theology and African ritual did not endure in the slave communities of North America to the extent th at they did in Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. A review of the scholarship reveals that Raboteaus assertion continue s to influence views of enslaved African American spiritual practice, even thoug h it was made at a time when much less attention had been devoted to the subject in North America. New data has come to light, and thus new possibilities. Barbara Little finds it troubling that the past is used to support the status quo, suggesting We tend to ignore evidence in favor of what we think we know or want to believe (2007:9). The goals of archaeologi cal research, research conducted in the present but concerned with the past, is necessa rily shaped by the concerns of the present. I began this thesis by invoki ng Littles recognition of the thread which runs through the concerns of historical archaeo logy, to discover the present mean ing of the historical past and to make the past meaningful and usef ul (2007:22). The focus of archeological research continues to adjust and transform to meet its goals. As Michel-Rolph Trouillot asserts, When reality does not coincide with deeply held beliefs, human beings tend to phrase interpretations that force reality within the scope of these beliefs. They devise formulas to repress the unthinkable and to bring it back within the realm of accepte d discourse (1995:72). In light of the academic tradition inspired by Raboteaus assertion that as their followers were enslaved the gods of Africa died in America and the nature of archaeological research as it refl ects the concerns of
133 the present, it is not surprising that the subject of enslaved Muslims in African Diaspora has not received more attention. It remain s unthinkable, bound up among the conflicting sentiments which surround the enslavem ent of other human beings and the dehumanization of a significant number who may have also been literate, and of a monotheistic tradition. Islam may be more important in Americ as early development than previously understood, and may have influenced African Am erican culture in ways which have thus far gone unconsidered. In 1522, the first Afri can slave revolt in the Americas, led by Wolof, occurred in Hispaniola (Diouf 1998:20) The Muslim legacy of the so-called New World is a lasting one, if not at first easily seen. In the American South, Trinidad, and Jama ica, there is a relig ious tradition known as the shout or ring-s hout, during which men and women tu rn in a circle while clapping their hands and shuffling their feet (Di ouf 1998:68). One explanation of the phenomenon is that it is derived from an African dance. It has also been posited that it may be a reference to pilgrimage. When Muslims goes on hajj or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, they honor one of the five pillars of their faith. Once there, they circumambulate a holy shrine, known as the Kaba. One circumambulation the Kaba seven tours, and this is called tawaf while just one tour is called shawt or saut (pronounced in Arabic as the English shout) (Diouf 1998:69). It remains conjectu re, but for Muslims who knew that they would never be able to make hajj, it may ha ve been an effort to in some way honor a major event of the pilgrimage.
134 This linguistic hypothesis, related by Sylvaine Diouf (1998), was proposed by Dr. L.D. Turner. Diouf finds that the theory is reinforced by observation of the ring-shout itself, Just as the pilgrims do in Mecca, th e shouters turn counterclockwise. As in Mecca, they do so around a sacred object, such as the church itself (in the Sea Islands) or a second altar built especially in the middle of the church (in Jamaica and Trinidad)(1998:69). There is a c ontinuity of Muslim tradition in America. Just as Islam has had lasting influence in coastal Georgia, where Sapelo Islands residents continue to pray and be buried facing east, its legacy may still be seen in other African American religious traditions today. There is much work yet to be done con cerning the tangible and intangible heritage recoverable from the archaeological record at sites of enslavement in the Americas and the evaluation of cultural interpretations of these sites. I have presented Christopher Fennels model as a way of addressing the la tter of these concerns. In order for this model to be applied successfully to the mate rial culture of enslaved African Muslims, a more adequate source for an ethnohistorical an alogy must be developed. This is just one of the facets this thesis has presented wh ich would benefit from further research. Future research on the subject which may prove to be fruitful would explore sites outside of North America in more depth. Ar chaeological investigations of enslaved African communities in Brazil may prove partic ularly interesting considering what is known of Muslim practice in that country fr om the documentary record. Charles Orsers (1996) review of Brazil may provide a significant basis for such explorations. This is also true, to a lesser degree, of sites throu ghout the Caribbean. Further research on the
135 tradition of Islam in West Af rica and particular movement s which were popular during the period of the transatlantic slave trade could strengthen the et hnohistorical analogy. I have suggested that there was a sign ificant Muslim presen ce among the enslaved African/African-American populat ion in the Americas, and e xplored the circumstances which resulted in their enslavement. I have presented the stories of a few of these individuals in order to offer a window thr ough which living people might be recognized. This is particularly important for an analysis of the materiality of their lives, which may indicate expressions of their identity and their beliefs. In this thesis I attempted an exploration of material culture and its potential to reflect a distinctly Muslim identity. If nothing else, what should be taken away from this thesis is that Islam should join the complex of identities over which archaeologists puzzle for enslaved African America and about which they ultimately craft new stories. At the outset of this thesis, I outlined the ways in which archaeology may be a critical, emancipatory, and explanatory endeavor. When this project was conceived, I could not envision it as separable from explanatory and emancipatory aims. It was only la ter that I realized this thesis could have consisted of artifact description and analysis entirely apart from these concerns. And yet, the emancipatory potential of archaeology was my inspiration. Wit hout it, this thesis would not exist.
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