Archaeology in the Shadow of a Massacre: Searching for Signs of Life in a Landscape of Historical Trauma

Alicia Odewale | University of Tulsa
Alicia Odewale

November 6, 2023, 3:00 p.m. | 315 Haskell Hall

Abstract: Historical Trauma is often hard to see. But for those who feel and experience its lingering effects for generations, it’s impossible to forget. Within the Historic Greenwood District in Tulsa, OK, lives a community that in the aftermath of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, rebuilt their homes, businesses, and churches and never stopped fighting for justice for themselves or healing for their families.

While the nation has been fixated on unearthing evidence of trauma and violence done to this historic community, a new collaborative archaeology project titled “Mapping Historical Trauma in Tulsa from 1921 to 2021” remains focused on finding signs of life and recovery in the aftermath of the massacre. Using restorative justice archaeology and surviving cultural landscapes to bear witness to trauma and erasure that is no longer visible above ground, archaeology has the power to reclaim and reimagine that which was taken by violence. Blending archaeology, history, radical mapping, multivocal storytelling, and digital humanities provides a way to not only visualize the impact of the massacre on the people and landscape of Greenwood but also share a greater story of Black resilience through time.

Alicia Odewale

Biography: As an African Diaspora Archaeologist with a background in Restorative Justice, Antiracist, Black Feminist, and Community-centered Archaeology, Alicia Odewale researches sites of African heritage in the US and Caribbean region. She also leads the archaeological and educational consulting firm, Archaeology Rewritten. In the field, she is the co-director of the research project, Mapping Historical Trauma in Tulsa from 1921-2021, which uses archaeology to understand more about the survivance of Greenwood and Black community resilience after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Paired with this ongoing research project is an accompanying field school offering free training in archaeological survey and mapping plus paid internships for students who reside in Oklahoma.

Please join us for a reception on Haskell’s mezzanine immediately following Dr. Odewale's talk.

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