Sarah K. Croucher is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology and a core faculty member of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Wesleyan University. She was a Weatherhead Resident Fellow at the School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, during the 2010-2011 academic year.
I am a historical archaeologist, whose primary research focus is on the archaeology of the nineteenth century. My major research projects investigate Omani colonialism in East Africa, global historical archaeology, and questions of race in New England. I have directed fieldwork projects in Zanzibar, mainland Tanzania, and the United States, and have participated in a wide range of archaeological projects in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Bahrain, Ghana, England, Scotland and Ireland.
My Ph.D (University of Manchester, 2006) was the first to explore the archaeology of 19th century clove plantations on Zanzibar, investigating the ways in which the materiality of plantation sites related to the social changes of the islands in the 19th century. It was awarded the Society for Historical Archaeology 2008 Dissertation Prize. This forms the basis of my monograph, Capitalism and Cloves: An Archaeology of Plantation Life on Nineteenth-Century Zanzibar. Capitalism and Cloves explores broad questions in the developing field of global historical archaeology through the study of Islamic plantations. Drawing together archaeological survey, excavation, oral and documentary history, I untangle the way in which colonialism and capitalism can be seen to have shared effects across cultural contexts, while also delineating more clearly the differences between this particular iteration of Islamic capitalist production and European-run plantations. I have continued this East African research with field projects in Western Tanzania, also looking at the impact of the caravan trade and Omani colonialism on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. My future research in this area plans to look at the archaeology of urban Zanzibar in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In a joint project with Paul Lane, I am planning to investigate the connections between East Africa and Connecticut through the nineteenth century ivory trade.
I am also the co-author (with Eleanor Casella) of The Alderley Sandhills Project: An Archaeology of Community Life in (Post-) Industrial England, (2010, Manchester University Press). Based on interpretations of findings from the Alderley Sandhills Project, this is the first book-length archaeology of a 17th through 20th century household site in Great Britain. I am the co-editor (with Dr. Lindsay Weiss) of The Archaeology of Capitalism in Colonial Contexts: Postcolonial Historical Archaeologies (Springer, 2011).
My research draws on social theory within archaeology, particularly the way in which material culture interacts with individual and group identity. I am also interested in theoretical issues within historical archaeology, especially the way in which colonialism and capitalism were created in local contexts, which in turn shaped the global dynamics of these processes.
At Wesleyan, I teach courses on historical archaeology, African and African Diaspora archaeology, and feminist and gender archaeology, and lab classes in archaeology based on previously excavated material from downtown Middletown. Since the spring of 2012 I have been working with members of the Middletown Cross Street AME Zion Church, students from Wesleyan University, and other local volunteers on a community archaeology project based at the ‘Beman Triangle‘- the triangle of land between Vine St, Cross St and Knowles Ave. The houses built on this land from the 1840s were home to a community of African Americans living in Middletown, tied to the AME Zion Church. Later the site was occupied by European immigrants to Middletown, as the city industrialized. Excavations at the site will continue in 2014 as part of Wesleyan University’s summer session.