Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Christopher Decorse


British Ant-Slavery;Colonial Entanglements;Identity Formation;Nascent Colonialism;Sierra Leone;Trade and Exchange

Subject Categories

African History | Arts and Humanities | History


This dissertation reveals local responses to, and influences on the nascent British colonialism, imperial policies, and trade networks at Regent, a liberated African village on the Sierra Leone peninsula during the colonial period (circa 1860 to 1960) through the study of written and archaeological data. It explores how Africans liberated from slave ships and barracoons, following the British abolition of the slave trade and therefore of varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds, established new settlements and actively changed or maintained their household spatial practices, socio-economic strategies, as well as material use and discard patterns in this foreign diasporic setting. Fieldwork for this study consisted of two years of archival research in Freetown and archaeological investigations, which included settlement-wide surveys and the horizontal excavations of two house loci at Regent Village known to contain stratified domestic deposits dating to the colonial period. I use these written records and archaeological assemblages to show how these diverse Africans adapted to this foreign diasporic environment focusing on varied house structures and the mundane things they made, bought, used, and discarded. The contextual and comparative analyses of architectural remains and artifact distributions, as well as the presence and absence of certain kinds of artifact classes, facilitate the reconstruction of material culture patterning and household economic differences. Results of the analyses indicate emerging elites in the two excavated house loci, while the settlement-wide survey data reveal that some liberated Africans and their descendants lived in foreign-style houses that were neither European nor local, used many imported materials and retailed them, obtained Western education and went to church, but never became “British.” I employ a theoretical framework that connects colonial entanglements, cross-cultural exchange, and identity formation.


Open Access