Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Diane Wallman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Antoinette Jackson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan Bethard, Ph.D.


Criminality, Imprisonment, Jailhouse Archaeology, Passive Resistance


Crime and punishment are highly racialized aspects of American society, and have been since the beginning. History has consistently focused on wealthy white males, leaving large gaps in our collective understanding of criminality as it applies to poor people and people of color. My thesis discusses how people of Amherst County in Colonial Virginia navigated imprisonment and their positionality. I engage with constructivist and feminist theories to expose silences in archives which hinders deeper understanding of the archaeological record. Though my research, I have been able to find the names of some of the people that were imprisoned, along with the crimes they were charged with. I discovered that race, class, and gender had a large effect on sentencing outcomes and time in spent in prison if found guilty, if a person was going to be released jail after being found not guilty, punished even after being cleared of charges, or if they were going to spend time in jail at all. I call this privileged criminality, and close my paper by arguing these privileged aspects of being were carried forward into the US after British rule ended, and that we need to study this more to determine how this truly effects the people of today