Department of Anthropology
- Trained in philosophy, anthropology, history, and archaeology, Dr. Sayers is a Historical Archaeologist who works in the United States. Currently, his Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study is exploring the social and economic history of communities that existed in the swamp interior from 1607 up through the Civil War. The project includes several scholars from around the U.S. as well as several AU graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Sayers is also working to develop an archaeological project centered on transient laborers and hobos in 1920-1950 America. Dr. Sayers also works on animal rights theory and archaeology, marronage theory and perspectives, the politics of the "Underground Railroad", and, the 19th century transition to agrarian capitalism in the midwest.
DegreesPhD, Historical Archaeology (Anthropology), College of William & Mary
MA, Anthropology, Western Michigan University
BA, Philosophy and Anthropology, Western Michigan University
Partnerships & Affiliations
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Society for Historical Archaeology
Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities
My primary interests, in no particular order, include: political economy; landscapes; alienation; Diasporae and exile; marronage, maroon communities, and the Underground Railroad; labor and commodities; defiance and resistance; animal rights and archaeology; Marxian-existentialist perspectives; community systems and structure; politics of archaeological resource stewardship; capitalist transformations/transitions; archaeological research modeling and methods; race/racism/racialization; and, historical archaeology as public and political praxis.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2011). A Marronage Perspective for Historical Archaeology in the United States. Historical Archaeology 46 (4).
Sayers, Daniel O. (2007). Landscapes of Alienation: An Archaeological Report of Excursions in the Great Dismal Swamp. Transforming Anthropology, 15(2):149-157.
Sayers, Daniel O., P. Brendan Burke, and Aaron M. Henry (2007). The Political Economy of Exile in the Great Dismal Swamp. International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 11(1):60-97.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2004). The Underground Railroad Reconsidered. Western Journal of Black Studies, 28(3):435-443.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2006). Diasporan Exiles in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1630-1860. Transforming Anthropology 14(1):10-20.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2003). Glimpses into the Dialectics of Antebellum Landscape Nucleation in Agrarian Michigan. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 10(4):269-334
Select Monographs and Technical Reports
Sayers, Daniel O. (editor/contributing author) (2012). Continued Excavations at the Nameless Siet, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. American University/GDSLS Research Report No. 4, submitted to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5, Hadley, Massachusetts, under review.
Sayers, Daniel O. (editor/contributing author) (2011) Archaeology of Antebellum Resistance Communities, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. American University/GDSLS Archaeological Research Report No. 1, submitted to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5, Hadley, Massachusetts.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2008). The Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study: The Final Results of Intensive Excavations at Several Sites in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina and Virginia, 2003-2006. GDSLS Report No. 2, submitted to United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5, Hadley, Massachusetts.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2008). The Diasporic World of the Great Dismal Swamp, 1630-1860. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. Proquest/UMI, Ann Arbor.
Grants and Sponsored Research
2010-2013, NEH, "We the People" Collaborative Grant (RZ-51219-10), Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study (Project Director with collaborators: Sue Taylor, Jeff Tolbert, Will Moore, Carolyn Finney, Dan Lynch, and Brent Morris).
2004-2007, Canon National Parks Science Scholars Doctoral Dissertation Grant.
In production: Interviewed as maroon sites archaeologist in, Maroon Project, Haile Gerima, Howard University.
2011: Interviewed as maroon sites archaeologist in, Dismal History, Imtiaz Habib, Old Dominion University.
2005: Interviewed as maroon sites archaeologist, The Great Dismal Swamp: Glimpses into the Wild, KCTV-Chesapeake, Virginia.
*See our Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study Facebook page---www.facebook.com/GDSLS
**Keep a lookout for our project webpage to be published soon: www.gdsls.com
***5th annual AU Anthropology Department Archaeology Field School in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (May and June, Summer 2013) is in the works--keep checking for updated info and field school applications and material. AU graduate and undergraduate students can enroll after application approval; students from other universities also welcome to enroll.
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
2012, Keynote Speaker and Co-Ribbon Cutter, US Fish and Wildlife Service Public Historical Interpretation Pavilion Official Opening, February 24, Suffolk, VA.
2008, College of William and Mary Distinguished Dissertation in the Social Sciences Award.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2012). Cultural Heritage and Social History in a Swamp? The Effort to Bring to Light the Diasporic History of the Great Dismal Swamp, North Carolina and Virginia. Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, March, Baltimore, MD.
Goode, Cynthia V., and Daniel O. Sayers (2012). A Remote Landscape and its Once-Forgotten Pasts: The Rise of Memorializing Awareness of Maroons and the Resistance Histories of the Great Dismal Swamp. Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, January, Baltimore, MD.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2012). Searching for a Maroon Presence in the Great Dismal Swamp: Project Models, the Historical Record, and Archaeological Findings, 2003-2011. Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, January, Baltimore, MD.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2011). The Myopic Cloak of “Common Sense” Geographies: Reinvigorating Emaciated Social Memories of the Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia and North Carolina. The American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Montreal, Quebec, November.
Riccio, Jordan, and Daniel O. Sayers (2010). Discursive Murmurs, Diaphanous Pasts, and the Archaeological: Indigenous Americans and the Coming to Be of the Diasporic World of the Great Dismal Swamp after 1550. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, St. Louis, MO, April.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2010). Alienating Antagonies of Class, Labor, and Marronage: Political Economic Transformation in the Great Dismal Swamp, ca. 1760-1860. The 43rd Annual Conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology, January 6-9, Jacksonville, Florida.
Sayers, Daniel O. (2009). The Material Traces of Great Dismal Swamp Resistance Communities of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Invited paper, Waterways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Journey from Hampton Roads, Virginia, An Educational Symposium. Norfolk State University, March 21.
Work In Progress
- Sayers, Daniel O. Across the Dark Waters of the Desert: The Quiet Diasporic Revolution in the Great Dismal Swamp Prior to the Civil War. Book under contract and review, Society for Historical Archaeology and University Press of Florida.
Sayers, Daniel O., et al. Behind the Sylvan Wall: Reconnecting with the Political Economy of the Great Dismal Swamp, 1500-1860. Article in preparation.Sayers, Daniel O. Ethical-Activist Archaeology and Animal Emancipation. In preparation for January 2013 submission to International Journal fo Historical Archaeology.
AU News and Achievements
Anthro Prof Awarded $200k for Dismal Swamp Project
Prof Dan Sayers lands an NEH "We the People" grant for collaborative study VA-NC tidewater region "resistance ...