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Daniel Sayers Associate Professor and Department Chair, Anthropology Department of Anthropology

Send email to Daniel Sayers
(202) 885-1833 (Office)
(202) 885-1837 (Fax)
CAS - Anthropology
Hamilton - 101
Fall 2020 Teaching: Tuesday 2:30-5 pm Student Office Hours: Wednesday 2-4 pm
PhD, Historical Archaeology (Anthropology), College of William & Mary MA, Anthropology, Western Michigan University BA, Philosophy and Anthropology, Western Michigan University

Book Currently Reading
Drift: Illicit Mobility and Uncertain Knowledge, by Ferrell
I stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter; with the American Indian Movement; with the numerous African Americans, such as Freddie Gray, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and their families who have been casualties of white supremacist America and its police forces; and, with All Marginalized Peoples. I stand with and support our students and faculty of color whose lives are being churned and upheaved by the typhoon of hatred and violence that has stormed the country in recent weeks, years, and across the centuries. I stand against racism and its many manifestations in U.S and global societies. My archaeological research is my activism and it has always reflected at its core such solidarity. I support professional Anthropology’s movement toward combating and eliminating racism within and beyond our profession’s homes, like universities.
See Also
Anthropology Department
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


Fall 2020

  • ANTH-601 The Craft of Anthropology I

  • ANTH-899 Doctoral Dissertation

Partnerships & Affiliations

  • Society for Historical Archaeology

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
    In Partnership

  • Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
    In Partnership

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Professional Services

Courses Taught

  • Masters/Dissertation Seminar
  • Craft of Anthropology I 
  • Craft of Anthropology II
  • Contemporary Theory: Culture, Power, and Place
  • Foundations of Archaeology
  • Foundations of Archeology: Theory Since 2000
  • Foundations of Archaeology: Marxism, Material Culture, and Space
  • Foundations of Archaeology: Grasping Social Worlds
  • Contemporary Theory: Culture, Power, History
  • Archaeology, Alienation, and the Existential Condition
  • Leftist Anthropological Archaeology
  • Great Depression Undocumented Laborer Project/Delta, PA Archaeological Field School (AU, co-taught
  • Great Dismal Swamp Archaeological Field School
  • Historical Archaeology of Labor and Resistance 
  • Archaeology of Diasporas
  • Archaeology and Politics
  • Archaeology of the Undocumented
  • Archaeologies of Labor, Defiance and Resistance
  • Human Origins
  • Introduction to Archaeology
  • Early America: The Buried Past
  • Archaeology of the Modern World
  • Archaeology of the Homeless and the Home
  • Radical Archaeologies


*See our Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study Facebook


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.      

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.        



Escape to the Great Dismal Swamp

Smithsonian Channel

Andreas Gutzeit, Producer and Director, Story House Productions


City of Lost Slaves

Andreas Gutzeit, Director, Story House Productions 


Landscape of Power: Freedom and Slavery in the Great Dismal Swamp. 

Nina Shapiro-Perl, Director with Co-Producer Beth Geglia

Selected Publications

     Recent Public Work

Sayers, Daniel O. 2018, A Modest Firearms Proposal, The Doctor T.J Eckleburg Review

Sayers, Daniel O., 2017, Guest Columnist, "The Shepard House Has Alot to Teach Us".

Sayers, Daniel O., 2016, The Mail, Underground Railroad. New Yorker

     Recent Books

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. (Second, paperback edition, 2016).

     Recent Articles and Book Chapters

Sayers, Daniel O. (2019). The Radical Antebellum Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina and Virginia, USA: Maroons, Indigenous Americans, and the Power of Underdeveloped Landscapes. Revue d’histoire du XIXe siècle 58:125-146.

Sayers, Daniel O., and Justin Uehlein (2018). Animal Emancipation and Historical Archaeology: A Pairing Long Overdue. In, Critical Animal Studies: Towards Trans-species Social Justice, Atsuko Matsuoka and John Sorenson, eds., pp.117-142, Rowman & Littlefield International, London, UK. 

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.    

Short Fiction

Daniel Owen Sayers, 2018, The Omphalos of Pritchard McCovey, Poor Yorick Journal


Media Appearances

Recent Appearances

August 2017

    99% Invisible podcast, Dismal Swamp

    Our State (North Carolina) podcast, Dismal Swamp

July 2017

    NPR Morning Edition, Delta PA Hobo Jungle Work

May 2017

   Archaeological Conservancy, Dismal Swamp Article

December 2016

   Mysteries of the Museum, Travel Channel, Dismal Swamp segment

September 2016

   Smithsonian Magazine, Dismal Swamp Article


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 some methods areas (e.g., excavation, survey, and modes of data recordation); home and homelessness; race/racism/racialization; and, historical archaeology as social justice and world-transformational praxis.