Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Anthropology

Major Professor

Antoinette Jackson

Abstract

Nicodemus, Kansas is one of the few remaining settlements founded by African American former slaves in the post-Civil War period of American history. Designated by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site in 1996, Nicodemus has secured its role as a place deemed important to the history of America. For this project, I worked as an intern for the Nicodemus Historical Society, under the direction of Angela Bates. This local heritage preservation agency manages archival and genealogical records important to Nicodemus descendants, and exhibits several of the community's cultural and material artifacts for the public. I was specifically involved in the collection of archival research for this agency and the facilitation of an oral history project. In addition to these duties, I used the ethnographic techniques of participant observation and semi-structured interviewing to explore how Nicodemus descendant identity is constructed, and how this identity maintains its continuity into the present day. Using Annette Weiner's arguments concerning women's roles in identity formation and cultural reproduction in Inalienable Possessions, I worked to discover the ways that women have historically worked to preserve Nicodemus cultural heritage and reproduce Nicodemus descendant identity for future generations.

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