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Cookin’ for the Big House: Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks and their Kitchens

November 12, 2016 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

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On November 12, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Dr. Kelley Deetz will present a program on Virginia’s enslaved cooks, which will include a lecture in the duPont Library and a tour of Stratford’s historic kitchen–an eighteenth-century outbuilding.  Tickets are $25.00 per person (not free to FOS members).  Please register for the program by emailing Jon Bachman or calling 804-493-1972.  “ Due to demand, registration has been extended until Friday, November 11.

Drawing extensively from her work When Her Thousand Chimneys Smoked: Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks and Their Kitchens, Dr. Deetz offers a wide-ranging interdisciplinary examination of Virginia’s enslaved plantation cooks seeking to advance our understanding of their contributions to Virginia’s rich cultural traditions.  By examining the archaeological record, material culture, cultural landscapes, folklore, written records and racialized and gendered spaces, the lecture seeks to uncover the hidden voices of the men and women who cooked for the enslavers.

Enslaved cooks were highly skilled, trained and professional, creating meals that made Virginia known for her cuisine and hospitality.  They were at the core of the Virginia’s domesticity and culinary pride as well as the center of the plantation community. Archaeological and historical records reveal the centrality of the cook’s role, and the material culture exemplifies how cooks created a black landscape within a white world and were able to share this unique space with the large enslaved population.

Make a point to learn from these hidden voices of the enslaved.

DeetzAbout the presenter:

Deetz holds a B.A. in Black Studies from The College of William and Mary, as well as a M.A. in African American Studies and Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She specializes in nineteenth-century African American culture, African Diaspora archaeology, and public history (tourism, memorials, and memory). She is the former Vice President and current Board Member of the Legacy Museum of African American History in Lynchburg, Virginia, and the Co-Editor of the African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter.

She is currently working on a manuscript entitled Bound to the Fire: Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks and their Kitchens, and her forthcoming chapter “Stolen Bodies, Edible Memories: The Influence and Function of West African Foodways in the Early British Atlantic” will be in The Routledge History of Food due for publication this fall. Deetz has worked extensively in Cultural Resource Management both in Virginia and in California, and was a professional cook for over a decade.


November 12, 2016
10:00 am - 12:00 pm

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