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Rhind Lectures 2022: Unearthing the African Diaspora

10th June 2022 - 12th June 2022

Singleton conducting test excavations at Butler Island Plantation Site

Presented by Professor Theresa Singleton PhD FSA

The Society’s hybrid Rhind Lectures are taking place in Edinburgh (Augustine United Church) and live-streamed online.  Please check the Society website, e-newsletters and your email inbox for the latest news and further information on Society events especially during the pandemic in case of any new restrictions and last minute changes to events. 

This event is open and free to all. Please find our Rhind Lecture 2022 leaflet here.

With thanks to AOC Archaeology Group for sponsoring the 2022 Rhind Lectures.

Rhinds 2022 Catalogue

Please visit the Society’s online catalogue to have a look through our books and merchandise. You can get £5 off and free postage on all Society books when entering ‘rhinds2022’ at checkout. Instructions on how to order is on page 4. Please note that merchandise is at full price with P&P.

Rhind Lectures Outline

African Diaspora Archaeology studies people of African descent in the Americas and elsewhere in the world. This research began in mid-20th century on the sites of enslaved and liberated communities. Today it is one of the fastest growing study areas in the archaeology of the modern world. In this lecture series, Professor Theresa Singleton discusses this developing archaeological discipline using her own projects as case studies beginning with her introduction to diaspora studies as a graduate student, to her current research on self-liberated and other free communities.

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Friday 10th June

5pm Overview of African Diaspora Archaeology

This first lecture provides a historical overview to studies in African Diaspora Archaeology. It examines various sites enslaved peoples, slave runaways, and free blacks occupied, and the artefacts recovered from them.  Theresa also briefly discusses her career path as it related to this research. 

6.15pm Gullah-Geechee Archaeology at Butler Island

Theresa’s first major project was undertaken at Butler Island, a 19th-century rice plantation about 80km south of Savannah, Georgia, USA. Gullah-Geechee refers to African American communities who live in coastal South Carolina and Georgia and are descendants of the enslaved people who worked on plantations like Butler Island.  They are known today for their language (Gullah), crafts, and musical performances. 

Followed by a reception. A selection of Society books, ties and scarves will be available to purchase.

Saturday 11th June

2pm Digging through Museum Collections

Theresa has worked in museums for 18 years, and at each one she found artefacts associated with African Americans that had received little or no attention prior to her interest in them. Theresa conducted research on several of these artefacts primarily for museum exhibitions.  In this lecture, she will highlight a few of these “collection finds” and discuss their significance in the study of African American life. 

3.30pm Revisiting Gullah-Geechee Archaeology and Heritage

In 2008, Theresa was invited to participate in a conference on the Gullah-Geechee of Georgia that provided her with the opportunity to update her research but also reconnect to members of the Gullah-Geechee community.  Since that time, she is regularly consulted on heritage issues that pertain to the preservation of Butler Island and related sites that are now threatened by redevelopment. 

Sunday 12th June

3.30pm A Serendipitous Turn to Cuban Slavery

An unexpected opportunity to travel to Cuba presented itself while Theresa was working at the Smithsonian that ultimately led to developing an archaeological project at a former coffee plantation with a unique slave settlement that was fully enclosed within a tall masonry wall.  Undertaking this research project turned Theresa’s understanding of slavery on its head as well as broadened her understanding of the Afro-Latin American Diaspora. 

5pm Beyond Slavery—Sites of Liberation

While researching Cuban slavery, Theresa became interested in those who fled slavery.  Most of them hid in caves and other secluded places and often relied on enslaved people for assistance in harbouring them. This led her to begin a project in Dominican Republic where some of the earliest slave runaway settlements were established. While doing this research, she learned that some of these runaway settlements were granted their freedom and became Free Black Towns.  This ongoing project is described in this lecture. 


Presented by Professor Theresa Singleton PhD FSA

Theresa is Professor of Anthropology at Syracuse University, New York, USA, and the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions, at University of Cambridge, 2021-22. She was also the Curator of Historical Archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution, 1988-2000. Her areas of expertise are African Diasporas, Slavery and Plantations, Museums, Southern United States, and the Caribbean. Her most recent book, Slavery Behind the Wall, was published in 2015. In 2014, the Society for Historical Archaeology awarded her the J. C.  Harrington Medal for her lifetime contributions to Archaeology. 


Rhind Lectures 2022 Registration



House Rules

We aim for our events to be safe and harassment-free and the Society has a zero-tolerance policy on harassment and bullying.

The Society expects all attendees to act with respect to one-another during this event and anyone making comments which we believe to be inappropriate (e.g. offensive, misleading, spam) or abusive will be removed from the event immediately.

To report any abuse you think we missed, please contact the Director of the Society, Dr Simon Gilmour (director@socantscot.org)

COVID-19 Precautions for attending in-person events

To ensure all attendees and members of staff have a safe and enjoyable experience at these events, please make sure you adhere to the following rules:

We request that you do not attend if you have any COVID-19 symptoms prior to the event

Please wear a mask until seated (unless exempt) and feel free to wear a mask while seated should you wish

Try to maintain social distancing where possible and respect those with Distance Aware badges or lanyards

Please use hand sanitising stations provided

Listen to further announcements made by members of staff


10th June 2022
12th June 2022
Event Category:


Augustine United Church
41 George IV Bridge,
Edinburgh, EH1 1EL United Kingdom
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