The Archaeology of Race and Racialization in Historic America

Charles E. Orser Jr.

Foreword by Michael S. Nassaney, Series Editor

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"The Archaeology of Race and Racialization in Historic America extends Orser's thorough and thoughtful advocacy for a historical archaeology that forcefully confronts race and the color line. Orser has become the discipline's preeminent voice on issues of race and racism, championing a sophisticated theoretical foundation and pressing for a social archaeology that moves beyond narrow empiricism."--Paul R. Mullins, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

"Orser's analysis of race and racialization as ongoing historical processes liberates us from the commonly accepted idea that race is a fixed social reality. In examining the material lives of the Irish in New York and the Chinese in California, Orser demonstrates the vast impact that the process of racialization has had on immigrant communities in the United States. A must read for any historical archaeologist seriously interested in understanding the meanings of race and ethnicity."--James A. Delle, Kutztown University

With the advent of this book, the ability of archaeologists to contribute to the study of race no longer can be doubted. By focusing on "racialization," the marginalizing process in which racial categories are imposed on groups of people based on some outward characteristic, Charles Orser shows how historical archaeology can contribute to the study of race through the conscious examination of material culture. He demonstrates this in two case studies, one from the Five Points excavation in New York City focusing on an immigrant Irish population, the second from a Chinese laundry in Stockton, California.

Orser argues that race has not always been defined by skin color; through time, its meaning has changed. The process of racialization has marked most groups who came to the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; this book demonstrates ways that historical archaeology can contribute to understanding a fundamental element of the American immigrant experience.

Charles E. Orser Jr. is distinguished professor of anthropology at Illinois State University and the founding editor of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology.

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" A must for historical archaeologists and other social scientists involved in the historical aspects of ethnicity and class. This is his clearest, most concise statement of methodology to date. Essential."

"Provides a much-needed reevaluation of the role of race and the racialization of prescribed groups from the view of historical archaeology. May provide urban scholars with a new set of analytical tools to study how the racilalization of certain groups shaped the perceptions of those both inside and outside of these circumscribed parties."
--H-Net Reveiws

"An important contribution to the scholarship of race and American immigrants." "Encourages archaeologists and other students of material culture to consider ways to problematize race so that it can be interpreted from material objects."
--American Historical Review

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