Anthropology Magazine

Slavery, Sustenance, and Resistance

Slavery, Sustenance, and Resistance

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 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 here.

Back to Season 4 homepage.