Bioarchaeology of the African Diaspora in the Americas: Its Origins and Scope
- ISSN: 00846570
- DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.30.1.387
The results of over 70 years of African Diasporic bioarchaeology are discussed and explained as emerging from distinct interests and traditions of African Diasporan studies, sociocultural anthropology, history, physical anthropology, and archaeology, in that chronological order. Physical anthropology is the core discipline of African-American bioarchaeology, yet it has been the least informed by cultural and historical literatures. Forensic approaches to bioarchaeology construct a past that fails to be either cultural or historical, while biocultural approaches are emerging that construct a more human history of African Diasporic communities. The involvement of African Americans, both as clients and as sources of scholarship. has begun to transform bioarchaeology as in the example of the New York African Burial Ground. The social history of the field examined here emphasizes the scholarship of diasporans themselves, and critiques a bioarchaeology that, until recently, has had little relevance to the people whose history bioarchaeologists construct.