Aya Hashimoto

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Michael S. Nassaney

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Spielvogel

Third Advisor

Dr. Frederick H. Smith

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The expression of race and racism in material culture is of increasing interest in historical archaeology ( e.g., Epperson 1990, 1999, 2000; Mullins 1996, 1999). This study investigates 6 ceramic sherds from one vessel associated with a white urban domestic site on First Street, in Holetown Barbados. This vessel conveys a racist message. A black slave in a loincloth serving tea to a white person is transfer printed on the ceramic. The ceramic seems to be an annular designed pearlware from England in the first half of the 19th century.

By interpreting the meanings of the ceramic decoration, this study aims to explore history and slavery in Barbados, the archaeology of race, and ceramic symbolism. Material culture is active because it is used to create, express, and transform social structure. In such a process, objects transmit certain messages to particular audiences. This study focuses on interpreting the symbolic meanings of the ceramic decoration to whites, and reconstructing circumstances of the ceramic, especially the contemporary relationships between whites and blacks. By doing so, my study attempts to reveal how material culture served to reproduce race relations in Barbados in the early 19th century. My research mainly involves examining historical documents on Barbados to understand its social and cultural context, and art/museum collection books and Internet sites to gain information about the image of black servants and tea drinking.