Nearer, My Farm, to Thee: A Spatial Analysis of African American Settlement Patterns in Hillsborough County, Florida
Degree Granting Department
Brent R. Weisman, Ph.D.
Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Ph.D.
Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph.D.
Southeastern U.S., Geohistorical, GIS, Archaeology, ANT
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have demonstrated their utility in predictively modeling the location of archaeological sites, and providing a framework for cataloging sites eligible for heritage management status. The intent of this GIS-based study is to begin to create a geohistorically organized database of information culled from historic documents and archaeological excavation. In this case study of postbellum land tenure in Hillsborough County, Florida, a GIS-based approach is used to demonstrate the impacts of federal and state land ownership policy decisions during the Reconstruction Era and beyond. GIS data are also used to reveal information about how people use their allotted environment to non-verbally communicate their perceptions of the world and their place in it. Finally, GIS are shown to be ideally suited for allowing multi-scalar, diachronic comparisons of archaeological sites and materials.
This research was conducted according to the concepts of Actor-Network-Theory (ANT), which assumes there is a generalized symmetry between the agency of human actors and non-human actants (i.e. it does not assume the primacy of human intentional action). ANT accepts that materials can carry non-verbal messages (e.g. colors, aromas, tactility), which affect how humans interact, communicate, and organize themselves in space. ANT allows for the use of scales based on human action, and analyses that are based standardized metrologies. Finally, ANT obviates being limited to strict categories of macro- and micro-, by accepting that networks may bridge both.
This research shows that two rural communities have undergone similar growth trajectories, with a historically black community having experienced some setbacks in the early 20th century. However, the results show that the rural African American community was not more subdivided than the neighboring Euro-American community, contrary to initial expectations. Additionally, there is a suggestion that communities may move socially important buildings such as churches schools to the community center or periphery, depending on the intended recipient of the message. The study also documents the centralization, concentration, and clustering of the county's African American population through time.
Scholar Commons Citation
O'Brien, Matthew Andrew, "Nearer, My Farm, to Thee: A Spatial Analysis of African American Settlement Patterns in Hillsborough County, Florida" (2011). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.