Podcast S4 E6 | 37 min

Slavery, Sustenance, and Resistance

30 Mar 2022
In this SAPIENS podcast episode, meet the archaeologists who are investigating how "slave cuisine" can be a new site of understanding Black survival and resistance.

Archaeology helps re-imagine a fuller range of experiences, including how people ate, innovated, and rebelled. In this episode, “slave cuisine” opens a window to honor the legacy of Black creativity, resistance, and community.

Dr. Peggy Brunache, a food historian and archaeologist, finds shellfish remains in a village of enslaved people, uncovering an untold story of how people found ways to resist. Dr. Kelley Deetz uses Southern food, which is really African food, to initiate difficult conversations about the history of slavery.


  • Dr. Peggy Brunache, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the history of Atlantic slavery at the University of Glasgow and the first director of the newly established Beniba Centre for Slavery Studies. Born in Miami, Florida, to Haitian parents, she trained and worked as a historical archaeologist with a focus on plantation studies, the African diaspora, and the transatlantic slave trade, working on archaeological projects in Benin, West Africa, Guadeloupe, and the U.S. She developed a free 4-week ongoing online course on British slavery in the Caribbean with Futurelearn.com. Other public-facing projects include working with world-class theaters, food, music, science, and culture festivals. Peggy also acts as a culinary consultant for Perth’s Southern Fried Festival. Her media appearances include the Food Network (U.S.), Discovery Channel, BBC TV’s Black and British documentary series, Channel 4’s Britain’s Most Historic Towns (with Professor Alice Roberts), and she is a regular contributor to BBC radio programs.
  • Dr. Kelley Fanto Deetz, Ph.D., is a historian and archaeologist who works as the director of collections and visitor engagement at Stratford Hall and as the director of education and historic interpretation at Virginia’s Executive Mansion. She also is a visiting scholar in African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Kelley holds a B.A. in Africana studies and history from The College of William & Mary and an M.A. and Ph.D. in African diaspora studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She partnered with National Geographic to produce the documentary film Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner (National Geographic Channel) and wrote two cover stories for National Geographic’s History magazine. She is the author of the book Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, which was named as one of the top 10 books on food of 2017 by Smithsonian Magazine. You can find her most recent work in Audible’s The Great Courses on “The History of Sugar” and the forthcoming cookbook California Soul, with celebrity and ONE TV star Chef Tanya Holland and Alice Walker.

SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human is produced by House of Pod and supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. SAPIENS is also part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library. This season was created in collaboration with the Indigenous Archaeology Collective and the Society of Black Archaeologists, with art by Carla Keaton and music from Jobii, _91nova, and Justnormal.

Listen also to SAPIENS Talk Back, a companion series by Cornell University’s RadioCIAMS. In episode 6, we continue the discussion that began in episode 6 of season 4 of the SAPIENS podcast, a conversation that examines “Slavery, Sustenance, and Resistance,” or what we might think of as “Setting the Table for an Archaeology of Resistance.” Our guests for this episode are Dr. Peggy Brunache, Lecturer of the History of Atlantic Slavery at the University of Glasgow and the first director of the Beniba Centre for Slavery Studies; and Dr. Kelly Fanto Deetz, Director of Collections and Visitor Engagement at Stratford Hall Plantation, and visiting Scholar in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Check out these related resources:

Episode sponsor:

  • University of California, Berkeley, Archaeological Research Facility
Read a transcript of this episode

Dr. Ora Marek-Martinez: There were other grocery stores much closer to the house. A Publix. A Winn-Dixie. Stores that were less than two miles away from where they lived.

Yoli Ngandali: When Dr. Peggy Brunache was a child in south Florida, her mother was not satisfied with these nearby options. She had another food source in mind.

Dr. Peggy Brunache: All the times that she would drag me miles and miles out to these Caribbean markets when I was a child, and I would ask her, “Why do we have to come all the way out here?”

Ora: At the time, in the 1970s, early ’80s, this market had no name. People just called it La Marché. It was outdoors, no covering or structures to protect from the rain or beating hot sun. But it was where African and Caribbean immigrants knew to go purchase cultural food products that were not readily available in the grocery stores.

Yoli: Dr. Peggy remembers the smells of the Caribbean markets.

Peggy: A sharpness of salted cod. Its salt had a scent. It’s definitely salted cod. The citrus smells. The sweetness of the fruit. Some of it so sharp that you almost, your mouth starts to kind of water a bit.

Ora: And the heat.

Peggy: It is always hot because the sun just smacks you around.

Ora: And the sounds.

Peggy: Of men and women trying to get you to buy their goods is always there.

Yoli: Peggy’s mom would sample the street food, as she turned the fruits and vegetables in her hands to feel for their ripeness, trying to decide—

Peggy: “Hmm … I don’t know, is this the best? Maybe I should go to another stall?” And then the women start arguing back, like, “Are you kidding me? I could get, I can get all of these for a lot cheaper. Why would I buy this here? I could go somewhere else.”

Yoli: As a curious kid, she wanted to know why.

Ora: My mom told me that I was a notorious “Why”-asker. [laughs] So, being an archaeologist and asking “why” constantly is something that seemed to be second nature for me. She once told me a story that when I was about 5 years old, I kept asking, “But why mom? Why?” She turned and looked at me in frustration, and I saw that sort of anger on her face. But then she saw the inquisitive and earnest look I had on my face, and she just had to laugh. She told me that it was my job to figure out the why. To do whatever I needed to do to find out the why. And I’ve been doing that ever since. [laughing]

Yoli: I used to be the kid that asked why a lot too. I grew up in a predominantly White education system. I used to hate history class. It was a barrage of names and dates with no connection to Black history and experience. I would question as to, “Why are we learning this?” With no real answer. I remember going to the nurse’s office feigning sickness to get out of that space. It wasn’t until college where I found a love for Black history and how archaeology can begin to uncover the lived experiences of enslaved peoples. Specifically, Whitney Battle-Baptiste’s Black Feminist Archaeology is a book that engages with this history and the past, and create a dialogue about intersectionality of race, gender, class, and being used as a reflexive tool or personal approach to writing and scholarship that I found a lasting, lasting connection to history. Why this? Why that? Why here? Why not there?

Peggy: And for my mother, the answer was quite simple, actually. And my mother was a Haitian American woman, an amazing cook but, you know, very working class. And I started to realize that this is not just a form of identity but a form of cultural resistance that she doesn’t even realize she’s doing. Because there was no need for us to be going to these Caribbean markets. We didn’t have to go and find salted cod and breadfruit and plantains. We could have just eaten potatoes and gotten regular fish in the market. But for her, this was important to maintain herself, her identity.

Ora: And it was formative for Dr. Peggy too. She is a food historian.

Peggy: With a focus on the African diaspora and, specifically, the history of Atlantic slavery.

Ora: And an archaeologist. Or as her mother would say—

Peggy: In Haitian Creole, “She digs in the dirt.” That’s all I can tell you. She could barely even articulate the word archaeology.

Yoli: In this episode, digging in the dirt leads to a deeper recognition of Black survival of slavery.

Ora: And sometimes the narratives we need to reclaim are right under our noses.

Yoli: Or on our plates.

Ora: So, let’s talk food.

Yoli: Here is episode 6, Slavery, Sustenance, and Resistance.

Ora: I’m Ora.

Yoli: And I’m Yoli. In this season on the SAPIENS podcast, we explore how Black and Indigenous archaeologists are changing the stories we tell.

[SAPIENS introduction and music]

Yoli: When Dr. Peggy reflects on visiting the Caribbean market with her mom, she now sees it as one of her earliest classrooms. But the sights and sounds of Saturday shopping were experienced alongside a harsh reality.

Peggy: I’m also a Haitian American, and the political upheavals throughout the ’70s and ’80s forced many to try to make it over the ocean, over the sea, to Florida, to the United States. But many of them coming as refugees, and many were so desperate that they were coming in rickety boats, inner tubes, and many of them, unfortunately, died en route. It was troubling to see Black bodies washing up on Miami beaches.

Ora: And during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, Haitians were racially targeted.

Yoli: Dr. Peggy was taking notes, and as she grew up, she was ready to take action.

Peggy: I was unsatisfied with Black history as it was taught in schools. I was unhappy with being told we were once enslaved, and then we weren’t. Of course, the reality that it was Whites that enslaved us never gets brought up. And so, I found that archaeology was one of the best ways to interrogate and uncover our history.

Ora: Like many of us, Dr. Peggy came into the field as a response to these incomplete and harmful narratives. She knew there was more to the story and a better way to tell it.

Yoli: As a scholar of slave plantations, the African diaspora, and the transatlantic slave trade, she has to contend with a major hurdle.

Peggy: As a Black archaeologist, there is the need to read against the grain. Whether we’re talking reading the archive or reading the landscape and artifacts that we excavate from it. For a very long time, studies on slavery have fixed the enslaved as a very static, passive actor in the world. It doesn’t help that the archive is also an aspect of power.

Yoli: Dr. Peggy is part of paving a new path. She reads texts produced by slaveholders with a sharp critical eye, and she handles belongings with a deep respect and reverence.

Peggy: There is a profound experience to uncover something that was touched, made, modified by my ancestors, something that hasn’t been seen for hundreds of years, something that I recognize that my family still does today or probably makes today because I still have family that live in Haiti. So, the cultural aesthetics and traditions are deep. I feel something, and I’m very careful to be as respectful as possible to those that came before that lived there and that worked there and died there.

Ora: When Dr. Peggy goes to a plantation for fieldwork, history begins to come to life.

Peggy: When you stand in that space of where these huts used to be, you start to understand how close the huts were. Therefore, you can hear whatever’s going on around you. So, if the family in the hut next to the space you’re standing in and someone has been beaten because they fell asleep while trying to feed the mill with sugar cane after working 17 hours and having no rest, you hear that. You hear them suffering in the night, you hear them singing and moaning.

Ora: The lives of our ancestors cannot be reduced to simplistic images in history books. Archaeology helps to reimagine the full range of experiences.

Peggy: As the descendant of enslaved people, I have to wrap my head around that I’m standing in the space of my ancestors, of where they suffered, where they toiled, where they died, but also where they resisted, where they celebrated, where they fell in love, and made friends as well.

Yoli: Moments of terror, resistance, and community, and also everyday practices like sweeping.

Peggy: I saw the same practice when I would visit Haiti and certainly in places in the Caribbean that I’ve excavated, and particularly plantations and slave villages in the U.S.

Yoli: Sweeping is more than just a household chore. In many communities, it had spiritual meaning in addition to the practical purpose of keeping one space clean.

Peggy: You sweep all the discarded food stuffs, stones, anything. No different than what we try to do today. You want to keep your living space as pristine as possible, even if you have so little control in other aspects of your life. So, to see so many of these African traditions and practices carry on through slavery and after slavery, it makes me feel connected to the past.

Ora: From sweeping up kitchen scraps to her memories at the Caribbean market in Florida, Dr. Peggy has always been drawn to traditions that survive time and place.

Peggy: Interestingly enough, especially when it comes to the fruit and veg areas of the market always run by women, which, later on, I would find out is not any different than the women that run markets in West Africa still. Not any different than the enslaved women that ran markets during slavery in the Caribbean. So, you know, there’s these certain traditions that cross time in very interesting ways.

Ora: And one of the many traditions that have survived and shifted before, during, and after slavery, there was one that Dr. Peggy was ultimately drawn to when the time came to pick her dissertation topic.

Peggy: And I said, “I want to write about food. That’s what I’m going to do because there was a lot of it.”

Ora: Her adviser nodded and responded, “OK, what about food?”

Peggy: What am I going to say? Am I just going to be talking about, “This is what the enslaved ate.” Is that it? Is that all I can say? And then I started to realize the actual dishes that enslaved people had been creating, re-creating, adapting for centuries. So, the idea of tracing modern Creole cuisine back to slave cuisine just felt right to me. And even when I use that term “slave cuisine,” I could see that people were taken aback by it, that you could not put the word “cuisine” and “slave” together. And so it just galvanized something in me, and I said, “This is exactly what I need to do.”

Yoli: Dr. Peggy focused her research on slave cuisine: how enslaved people ate, what they ate, and how they prepared food.

Peggy: The system of Atlantic slavery, particularly in the Caribbean, was so brutal that the average lifespan was no more than five years, right? They were using and discarding human beings like tissues, like disposable cups. And one of the odd things that I found just hard to wrap my head around was, so not only were they exploiting, physically brutalizing enslaved Africans, but often, they weren’t even feeding them. There literally had to be laws created so that slave holders, plantation management, would feed the enslaved. It should have been just understood that you have to feed human beings, especially if you’re going to expect them to be toiling in the Caribbean hot sun doing arduous labor for 12–17 hours a day. But yet, they weren’t being fed. So, just the ability to survive that was a form of resistance.

Yoli: For Dr. Peggy, these stark, ugly realities of slavery needed to be studied alongside revolutionary acts of creativity and joy.

Peggy: Being someone who is of color and descended from enslaved peoples, I wanted to help find a more dynamic understanding of slave experiences, different ways of understanding resistance that isn’t necessarily one of violence, though that is important to detail. I wanted to be able to find ideas or themes of Black joy under enslavement.

Ora: And reading the archives written by Europeans.

Peggy: Particularly when it comes to food, there’s what the planters stated. There’s what European visitors think they saw and often in the records you would see, “Oh, these poor people. They have so little to eat. Laws keep getting created to feed them, but the planters are so stingy, they’re not doing anything. And yet all this work has to come. And what food they have? Oh, it’s just so meager.”

Ora: But excavating plantations tells a different story.

Peggy: Archaeologically we found that, oh no, they found ways to get more meat into their diets when it was possible, whether that was them sneaking off the plantation to go to the shore and get it, whether it was them finding ways to have livestock and possibly sell their produce that they grew in their gardens at slave markets, they were ingenious in how they found ways to make their lives better.

Ora: Slaves were not passive recipients of history, despite what we do and do not learn in school. They practiced resistance daily.

Peggy: It becomes so real to understand exactly how the community could have bonded because of the shared experience, not just of racial violence, but also what they did to survive and the connections that they had because of who they were and the ideas of sharing stories and joy, something that we don’t necessarily think about. That these one-pot stews that were made for the community were shared by many at night or during their off-work time, that they can tell their stories, recount others, prepare their children for what’s to come.

Yoli: Dr. Peggy learns about these creative culinary traditions through archaeological evidence of plants, animals, seeds, and more. When she was studying a plantation in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, she found evidence of shellfish.

Peggy: They would go to the shoreline and collect shellfish. To fish takes time. It takes skill.

Yoli: And near this plantation there weren’t shallow waters, nor were there places where somebody could easily dock a boat.

Peggy: But there was plenty of intertidal zones where people could, on their off time, go and collect shellfish. They would take the opportunity and the chance of getting in trouble by going to the shore, going off property, off the plantation, to procure shellfish. This was the way that fresh meat would enter the diet.

Ora: Dr. Peggy also found evidence of planting gardens with herbs and fruit trees.

Peggy: And then the use of the growing of different herbs and vegetables, chilies, things like that were just another way of taking what little they had and making something amazing with it by changing the texture, changing the amount of heat, changing the flavor of their dishes, which were often one-pot meals, you know, a bit of salted pork, some herbs, some chilies, perhaps quite a bit of yams or manioc, shellfish that they just scraped off the rocks on the tidal zones. And we all know in horticulture, you often get a surplus. So, for what you’re not eating, many of them would take that to market and sell it, and be able to make a little bit of money off it. Not necessarily enough that they could buy their own manumission, but certainly positively affect their lives in a small way.

Ora: And this telling of history articulates the fullness of human experience. Dr. Peggy’s research helps us understand our heritage in ways that honor our ancestors’ ingenuity.

Peggy: It is this kind of culinary resistance that we still find pride and joy in consuming today as either Creole cuisine or soul food. But these are positive aspects of our past that we can say: “We weren’t always just victims. We were creative. We resisted in multiple ways, not just violently, but culturally. This is who we are. It’s fixed to our identity. This is a positive aspect that came out of slavery that we still endeavor to continue.”

Yoli: And Dr. Peggy’s mother and the sweaty Caribbean markets are a testament to the power of food and the strength of our ancestors.

Peggy: My mother passed away in 2009, and I finished my dissertation in 2011, and I dedicated my dissertation to her. My work is always informed, influenced, and propelled by my mother, her mother before her, all the women that came before them that taught us how to find love, how to give love, how to feel power, how to feel joy through food. I do it in their name.

Heritage Voices AD: Hi, my name is Jessica Yaquinto, and I’m the host of the Heritage Voices podcast on the Archaeology Podcast Network. And if you like this season of the SAPIENS podcast, you’ll love Heritage Voices. Heritage Voices focuses on representation and anthropology, the heritage and CRM fields, and land management. Love Dr. Ayana Flewellen and want to hear more about their career journey? Interested in hearing more about efforts to decolonize museums? Find this and so much more on the Heritage Voices podcast. 

Yoli: The Caribbean market was an early classroom for Dr. Peggy. Other innovative archaeologists and allies have found kitchens and dining-room tables work well as a classroom too. But for a different audience.

Dr. Kelley Deetz: Talking about enslavement and the history of enslaved people is something that is incredibly hard for most people to do, and you kind of have to get comfortable being uncomfortable with the topic.

Ora: One of these innovative archaeologists and allies is Dr. Kelley Deetz.

Yoli: Dr. Kelley currently works as the director of programming at Stratford Hall. It has a brick exterior, numerous outbuildings, and expands across 2,000 acres of trails and gardens.

Ora: This was the Lee Plantation in Virginia, home to four generations, starting with Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Yoli: Dr. Kelley spends a lot of time talking to people about the history of slavery.

Kelley: Archaeology is incredibly important in filling out the sort of, you know, absent history of the enslaved here in America. And it is through the material culture that they left behind in these trash pits and privies and on archaeological sites throughout the country that we’re able to fill in what was not written for them or by them in the written record. And so, using archaeology to help shed light on the lives of these enslaved, on the lives of people who continued to cook and eat in ways that reminded them of home, is a way to give them a broader story, a more deep story about who these people actually were.

Yoli: There were about 200 enslaved people who lived at Stratford Hall. The people living here included skilled blacksmiths, masons, artisans, and cooks. Dr. Kelley organizes full reenactments of what life was like on this site, and for her, the state is the kitchen.

Kelley: We hire African American interpreters, and they come to site, and they dress in period clothing, and they don’t do the first-person thing, but they absolutely engage with the public as they walk through that historic kitchen talking about the food that was once cooked there. And literally, when you’re in that space, no matter who you are, especially if you’re from the southern United States, that’s going to be a smell of home. And so, it immediately makes people comfortable and at ease. And it is in these moments that I have witnessed incredibly hard conversations with people who are very diehard Confederate. You know, I work at the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, and so people come to Stratford Hall to pay reverence to their hero. And when they get there and they walk in that kitchen and they’re smelling the smells of their childhood, it is through that moment of nostalgia that there is an in to have a conversation about the power of racism, the history of racism, and how we need to move forward away from it.

Ora: For Dr. Kelley and visitors at Stratford Hall, the preparation and smell of food can disarm us and teach us. She examines other ways that food has historically helped to dismantle power.

Kelley: I think about the enslaved cook having ways in which that they would resist enslavement by literally poisoning the people that they were enslaved by. And so, for me, thinking about and reading about the times in which these enslaved cooks literally poisoned their enslavers to death and killed them through food is something that I think is really important in understanding the sort of larger history of African diaspora cuisine because it was in these stages of power, in these stages of contempt in these kitchens where there were so many power dynamics happening between the enslavers and the enslaved, that food really became a weapon: a weapon to scare the enslaver, a weapon to kill the enslaver, and also a way for the enslaved cooks to be able to negotiate certain things because their food was so good.

Ora: Food was not merely a tool for enslaved people to resist the dominance of the slave owners but also as a tool for comfort—

Kelley: and survival. And, I find myself sort of luring in the average person who would never, ever attend a lecture on the history of enslavement or enslaved people, but they come because they want to hear about the biscuits or the pudding that Mrs. Randolph may have made. And it is through these kinds of food conversations that you can bring forth the history, the real, honest sort of sober history of enslavement into these conversations and educate people on the people who actually had to cook the food, whose recipes were being enjoyed by the wealthy elite of Virginia and the colonies and Americans generally. And it is through the medium of food that you can have the kinds of conversations that are incredibly difficult to have outside of that particular space. And so, for me, talking about food, studying food, having food be the literal medium in which we have these kinds of hard conversations about America’s racist past is incredibly important, and I can’t think of a better way to bring up these conversations with people that might not do it otherwise.

Yoli: Food is an inescapable aspect of everyday life, and I know for me it’s not the first thing that came to mind when I first started to think about archaeology, but food is dynamic. It is profoundly personal and undeniably social.

Ora: And within Indigenous and Black communities, food is more than survival on a biological level. It’s cultural, spiritual. It’s our lifeblood. It’s our ancestors, our relations. Our ancestral foods have sustained us since time immemorial, and in my Nimiipuu or Nez Perce culture, food is so important that as part of our puberty ceremonies, part of our responsibility is to provide ancestral foods for the entire community. I remember my aunties and the elder women in my community coming to get me early in the mornings to travel up to the mountains to collect and gather roots and berries. I had no idea at the time that I was being prepared to be a Nimiipuu[? not sure of word: ayet?] or a Nez Perce woman and to provide for our people, to serve our people. There are so many lessons about life and survivance that are learned in our food ways. It’s actually a very profound and active way to learn and to live in respect. What about you, Yoli?

Yoli: Yes, food is so dynamic. Congolese food like makemba, fufu, pondu, other types of fish and meat stews make their way into Caribbean dishes as well. Coming together and eating from one plate with our hands is something tangible that brings the whole family together and connects us to the past. Dr. Peggy points out that much like our food, our history still lives and shapes everything around us.

Peggy: This is a shared history. Even though I feel compelled to do it for my ancestors, this is for everyone. It is not just the history for Black people. Black history is history. It is everyone’s history, especially if you are from the United States or the Caribbean or South America or one of the European powers that had a stranglehold. Atlantic slavery has had the greatest impact on the modern world, and unfortunately, the legacies are still with us in terms of structural inequality, state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Hence, why movements like Black Lives Matter continues to be of the utmost importance. This disconnect with the past, whether you are Black or descendant of enslaved people and not wishing to be re-traumatized by the violence of history, or if you are White and wishing to distance yourself from that horrifying part of everyone’s heritage, slavery affects and affected everyone.

Yoli: Perhaps it is because of the shared history, the food has many names: slave cuisine, West African, Caribbean, Creole, Soul, and so many more. Many of the cuisines that span the African diaspora have also created American foods, as many people see it and know it today.

Peggy: These dishes are still beloved today. For what European eyes saw as meager and pathetic, salt fish or salted cod, we love it. We still eat it. And interestingly enough, it’s now quite expensive. But many of these one-pot dishes that came out of slavery are still part of Caribbean cuisine today. It’s the same with Soul food or what people consider, you know, southern cuisine in the United States. So much of it came out of the few choices that were possible for enslaved African Americans. But yet, the creativity and the ingenious ways they could make these meager dishes into what we love today is a testament to our enslaved ancestors and what I call “slave cuisine.”

Ora: Dr. Kelley believes that whatever it’s called, what matters is giving credit where credit is due. American cuisine owes its roots to the kitchens at Stratford Hall and other plantations in the pre-emancipated United States.

Kelley: I think it’s really important to give credit to the enslaved African and African Americans for creating American cuisine because they were the ones cooking in those big house kitchens. They were the ones cooking for Thomas Jefferson. They were the ones cooking for heads of state from all over the world, for George Washington himself. They were the ones who were making the food that literally became world-famous as American cuisine, as Virginia cuisine, and that cuisine consisted of things like peanut soup, which is literally one of Virginia’s staple dishes—that is a West African dish. It also would be things like okra stew, gumbo, which is also a West African, not just ingredient, but also a dish. Things like jambalaya, which you cannot separate from places like New Orleans, and the rice coast in the Carolinas is a direct descendant of jollof rice, which is a very prominent dish that you see throughout West African nations even to this day. These recipes, and the ways in which they cooked them were literally brought over in the minds and the hearts of these enslaved Africans across the Middle Passage, and they were re-created in a different space. They made food with new ingredients and old ways.

Yoli: It’s also what Peggy, Kelley, myself, and so many others have been looking for in U.S. history class, a more complete story than the oversimplified generational trauma to the emancipation narrative that has long plagued U.S. history books. Food gives way for more personal, vulnerable, and complex stories, and is present during the moments worth celebrating.

Peggy: And it is something that we can look upon that we can still see this tradition, particularly through food, is still part of us, and it’s something that we can feel pride about. We love our food. We sing about our food. Black people, African diasporic people around the world sing about food. We dance about it. We have always found joy through food and being able to connect that to the past with us now in the present is something that I think allows people to see something positive despite what happened during slavery.

Yoli: This episode of SAPIENS was hosted by me, Yoli.

Ora: And me, Ora Marek-Martinez. SAPIENS is produced by House of Pod. Jeanette Harris-Courts is our lead producer, alongside producer Juliette Luini and story editor Rebecca Mendoza Nunziato. Jason Paton is our audio editor and sound designer, and Cat Jaffee and Dr. Chip Colwell are our executive producers.


SAPIENS is an editorially independent podcast funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, which has provided vital support. Our thanks to Dr. Danilyn Rutherford, Maugha Kenny, and their staff, board, and advisory council. This season was also created in collaboration with the Indigenous Archaeology Collective and Society of Black Archaeologists, with special help from our advisers Dr. Sara Gonzalez, Justin Dunnavant, and Ayana Flewellen.

Yoli: This episode was made possible by our guests, Drs. Peggy and Kelley, as well as the generous financial support of the archaeological research facility at the University of California, Berkeley. Additional funding for this series was provided by our friends at the Imago Mundi Fund at Foundation for the Carolinas. Thanks always to Christine Weeber and everyone at SAPIENS.org. Please be sure to visit the magazine for the newest stories about the human experience.

Ora: SAPIENS is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library. For more information visit SAPIENS.org and check out the additional resources we offer in the show notes on our website or wherever you’re listening to this podcast.

Yoli: And did you know that the Archaeological Center’s coalition is partnering with us to go deeper on what you just heard with companion episodes? You can find these extended discussions with academics and students about reshaping archaeological practice on their website and any podcatcher by searching for Cornell University’s Radio CIAMS. That’s Radio-C-I-A-M-S.


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