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Daniel Sayers

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Anthropology 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 and world of resistance communities that thrived in the swamp interior from 1607 up through the Civil War. The project includes several scholars from around the U.S. Dr. Sayers is also working to develop an archaeological project centered on transient laborers and hobos in 1920-1950 America. Additionally, Dr. Sayers is developing a novel animal emancipation agenda for historical archaeology, he is elaborating original marronage theories and perspectives, he is engaged in the politics of the "Underground Railroad", and, he continues his work the 19th century transition to agrarian capitalism in the Midwest and beyond. Dr. Sayers works with many undergraduate and graduate students in all of these projects and research areas.


PhD, Historical Archaeology (Anthropology), College of William & Mary
MA, Anthropology, Western Michigan University
BA, Philosophy and Anthropology, Western Michigan University

Book Currently Reading
Some favorite authors, Fiction or otherwise: Jack Kerouac, J.P. Sartre, F. Dosteovsky, Marx, Bertrand Russell, John Dominic Crossen, W.E.B.Dubois, Elaine Pagels, Peter Singer, James Bamford, David Harvey, Berke Breathed, Charles Bukowski, Carl Sagan, Pat McManus, and Allen Ginsberg. Current read: A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, by Philip Shenon.

Download CV (PDF)

CAS - Anthropology
Hamilton - 101
Fall 2015 Teaching: Wednesday 5:30-8 pm Office Hours: Wednesday 1-4 pm
Contact Info
(202) 885-1833 (Office)
(202) 885-1837 (Fax)

Send email to Daniel Sayers

For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
See Also
Anthropology Department

Partnerships & Affiliations

  • Society for Historical Archaeology


  • US Fish and Wildlife Service

    In Partnership

  • Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

    In Partnership


  • Fall 2015

    • ANTH-531 Topics in Archaeology: Archaeology of Undocumented
    • Description
  • Spring 2016

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

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 emancipation/rights and archaeology; Marxian-existentialist perspectives; community systems and structure; hobos, the Great Depression, and labor transience; politics of archaeological resource stewardship; capitalist transformations/transitions; archaeological research modeling and and some methods areas (e.g., excavation, survey, and modes of data recordation); race/racism/racialization; and, historical archaeology as social justice and world-transformational praxis.

Professional Presentations

Sayers, Daniel O. (2014) The Great Dismal Swamp and its Archaeology. Invited speaker, Nature Conservancy and US Fish and Wildlife Service Partnership 40th Anniversary Celebration, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Suffolk, VA, May 9.

Sayers, Daniel O (2014) Modes of Production and the Resuscitation of Historical Praxis. For, Annual Conference of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX, April.

Sayers, Daniel O. (2014) The Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study: A Big Swamp, its Communities, and the Future. Keynote presentation, Annual Meeting of the Archeological Society of Maryland, Crownsville, MD, April 5.

Uehlein, Justin, and Daniel O. Sayers (2014) Living on the Rails in the Twentieth Century: Archaeology, Hobos, and Transient Laborers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, March, Albuquerque, NM.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

2013, Distinguished Alumnus, Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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.      


2015: Interviewed as Great Dismal Swamp research director, Landscape of Power: Freedom and Slavery in the Great Dismal Swamp, Nina Shapiro-Perl, American University.

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.

Work In Progress

Sayers, Daniel O., and Justin Uehlein. Historical Archaeology and Animal Emancipation: A Pairing Long Overdue. Chapter for volume in Critical Animal Studies, Atsuka Matsuoka and John Sorenson, eds., Rowman and Littlefield International. Under review (submitted June 2015).

Sayers, Daniel O., and Jordan Riccio. An Uneven Geographical Development Model for the Elimination of Uneven Archaeological Knowledge. For September, 2015 submission to, Internatinal Journal of Historical Archaeology.

Sayers, Daniel O. The Historical Archaeology of Non-Industrial Labor, ca. 1780-1950. For February, 2016 submission to Journal of Archaeological Research.  



Sayers, Owen. [working title] Across the Dark Waters of the Desert, A Novel (in preparation).

     Short Stories

Sayers, Owen. Convergences (completed, in submission process).

Sayers, Owen. Four Nights in the Country (completed, in submission process).

Sayers, Owen. The Omphalos of Pritchard McCovey (completed, in submission process)

Selected Publications


Sayers, Daniel O. (2014). A Desolate Place for a Defiant People: The Archeology of Maroons, Indigenous Americans, and Enslaved Laborers in the Great Dismal Swamp. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

     Articles and Book Chapters

Sayers, Daniel O. (2015) Alienation, Praxis and Significant Social Transformations through Historical Archaeology. Chapter in, Historical Archaeologies of Capitalism, 2nd Edition, Mark P. Leone and Jocelyn Knaupf, eds. Springer.

Sayers, Daniel O. (2015) Maroon and Leftist Praxis. In, Current Perspectives on the Archaeology of Slavery in Latin America. Pedro P. Funari and Charles E. Orser, Jr., eds. Springer. 

Sayers, Daniel O. (2014). Scission Communities and Social Defiance: Marronage in the Diasporic Great Dismal Swamp, 1600-1860. In, The Limits of Tyranny: Archaeological Perspectives on the Struggle against New World Slavery, James Delle, ed., University of Tennessee Press.

Sayers, Daniel O. (2014). The Most Wretched of Beings in the Cage of Capitalism. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 18(3): 529-554.

Sayers, Daniel O. (2012). Marronage Perspective for Historical Archaeology in the United States. Historical Archaeology 46(4):135-161.

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

     Monographs and Technical Reports

Sayers, Daniel O. (editor/contributing author) (2012). Continued Excavations at the Nameless Site, 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, Kathryn Benjamin, Will Moore, Nina Shapiro-Perl, Chuck Goode, Carolyn Finney, Dan Lynch, and Brent Morris).

    2004-2007, Canon National Parks Science Scholars Doctoral Dissertation Grant.        


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