Critical Reflections on the Archaeology of Settler Colonialism in North America

Beginning in earnest in the 1990s, archaeologists have used the material record as an alternative window into the experiences and practices of Black and Indigenous peoples in North America from the sixteenth century onward. This now robust body of scholarship on settler colonialism has been shaped by postcolonial theories of power and broad-based calls to diversify Western history. While archaeologists have long recognized the political, cultural, biological, and economic entanglements produced by settler colonialism, the lives of Indigenous peoples have largely been studied in isolation from peoples of African descent. In addition to reinforcing static ethnic divisions, until recently, most archaeological studies of settler colonialism have focused on early periods of interethnic interaction, ending abruptly in the nineteenth century. These intellectual silos gloss over the intimate relationships that formed between diverse communities and hinder a deeper understanding of settler colonialism's continued impact on archaeological praxis.