Blog post #3 – Final thoughts, Final product

Since blog post #2, I have (you may notice a trend) read numerous more articles and several books that were recommended to me by a professor of archaeology at UVA. At this point, I restricted my articles to filling in gaps in my knowledge and making the project more specific to the present. I researched several articles on the controversial baseball stadium at Shockoe Bottom, a black community in Richmond whose historical district (including one of the most trafficked points in the United States for the slave trade and a massive slave cemetery) would have been obscured by the large stadium that was to be constructed alongside it. This event provides a compelling example of how common the sort of problems I’m studying are, although I’m probably not going to investigate particularly much further into its specifics given time restraints.

The two books that I read in their entirety were James River Chiefdoms by Dr. Martin Galivan of William & Mary and Miners and Monacans by Dr. Samuel R. Cook of Virginia Tech. Together, they provided a very detailed description of both the precontact life of the Monacan people and the effects of colonialism on them. Miners and Monacans was particularly valuable because of its detailed, critical analysis of internal colonies in the United States, both with the example of the Monacan Nation and with a coal mining community in West Virginia. Thus, this book catalogs strategies and methods of resistance as well as the way in which environmental destruction and cultural oppression fit together. Aside from being helpful for my research, I would recommend it to anyway who happens their way through my rambling and overly long blog posts.

Most significantly, though, I have begun writing a final product. I listed this in my abstract as a “polemic”, but I am unsure what format it will truly take. A research paper might be overly academic in that it would traditionally necessitate less opinionated writing, but it seems to come most easily to me. In any case, this step is definitely the most difficult of my research.The diversity of topics investigated, combined with the political nature of the research, has all-in-all created some sort of a jumble. I am planning to center the paper on 3 questions:

  1. Why was the original route considered acceptable for any amount of time if, as the company says, “We’ve said from the beginning that the best route would be the one with least impact on the environmental, historic, and cultural resources” ?
  2. What problems remain with the construction of the pipeline and Dominion’s stance?
  3. How does the successful opposition to the pipeline by the Monacan people illustrate expression of sovereignty and resistance?

If I deem this paper successful, I will post it as a fourth blog post. If not, I will probably transform it into my showcase presentation.

Seeing as this is my final blog post, I’d also like to look back at my initial ideas on the project. The most significant change from my original concept was due to the ACP’s change of route which actually meant that the Norwood-Wingina Historical District was no longer threatened by the pipeline. This change compelled me to engage in more historical research, seeing as most resistance centering around this particular problem with the pipeline had already happened. I think this was the right move given the change, but I do wish that I had started my project earlier in the summer, given some magical foresight that could have seen when the change would occur. I think the rerouting was similarly responsible for the transformation of my writing from polemic to research paper.

In any case, I learned many valuable things about the concepts of sanctity of graves, archaeology and its historical treatment of American Indian remains, and most primarily the history of the people whose land I currently inhabit, as well as their reassertions of sovereignty and contemporary movements.

Comments

  1. You mentioned briefly that the pipeline was re-routed in order to avoid trespassing on Monacan burial grounds. What was the character of the Monacan resistance that prompted such a change? Was there significant allyship in the effort to repath the pipeline or was it a movement largely contained within the Monacan community itself? I wonder because groups like these often don’t have the power to effect change on their own, given limited influence and years of marginalisation. However, allyship done poorly can lead to a distortion of message, which can be as bad as the thing being fought against. Also, along what grounds did the Monacans fight the proposal? Were their criticisms primarily cultural or were they motivated by environmental concerns, or even financial ones? This was a very interesting series of posts to read and I look forward to reading the final product.