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Digging Aunt Jemima And Uncle Ben: The Archaeology Of Enslaved Cooks

  • 24 Mar 2022
  • 6:00 PM
  • Virtual

Digging Aunt Jemima And Uncle Ben: The Archaeology Of Enslaved Cooks

AIA Society: Kentucky
Lecturer: Kelley Fanto Deetz

Dr. Deetz discusses the role of archaeological investigation to debunk myths around enslaved cooks in the American south. Drawing from her book, Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, Deetz interrogates the portrayal of the smiling images of “Aunt Jemima” and other historical and fictional black cooks found on various food products and in advertising. She draws upon archaeological evidence, cookbooks, plantation records, and folklore to present a nuanced study of the lives of enslaved plantation cooks from colonial times through emancipation and beyond, revealing how these men and women were literally “bound to the fire” and were nothing like their fictional depictions in food advertising.


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