Dexterous creation: Material manifestations of instrumental symbolism in the Americas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the contours of expressive processes through a study of small hand figures discovered at several African American archaeological sites from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The sample size in this exercise is quite small -- just twelve of these artifacts have been reported and documented in archaeological reports concerning African American residential and work spaces. Scholars in African Diaspora archaeology have viewed these artifacts as among the most evocative, the most enigmatic, and highly challenging to interpret. Due to the limitations of such a small data set, this chapter is not intended to offer conclusive explanations or interpretations of the meanings and uses of these particular artifacts. Rather, my goal is to open a series of research questions with which archaeologists can investigate these types of artifacts with more detailed and complex historical processes in mind.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaterialities of Ritual in the Black Atlantic
EditorsAkinwumi Ogundiran, Paula Saunders
Place of PublicationBloomington, IN
PublisherIndiana University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780253013910
ISBN (Print)9780253013866
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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