Frederick  Smith

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Office: Washington Hall 107A
Phone: 757-221-1063
Email: [[fhsmit]]

Areas of Specialization

Historical archaeology, ethnohistory, alcohol studies and political economy; Caribbean


My research is primarily focused on the role of alcohol in Caribbean societies.  Since 1995, I have conducted historical archaeological research in Barbados.  I have developed a distinctive historical anthropological approach that seeks to understand the culture and history of Barbados and its role in the broader Atlantic world.  In collaboration with colleagues at the University of the West Indies and the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, I explore issues of British colonialism and urban slave life.  I run an annual summer field school that brings together students from the United States and Barbados.  Using a comparative colonial perspective, the program investigates the daily lives and material conditions of disenfranchised social groups in the seventeeth-century British Atlantic world.

My book, Caribbean Rum: A Social and Economic History, investigates five hundred years of alcohol use in the Caribbean.  Drawing on materials from Africa, Europe, and throughout the Americas, it contributes to the growing field of Atlantic studies and breaks new ground in using an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates documentary, archaeological and ethnographic evidence.

In my second book The Archaeology of Alcohol and Drinking, I examine the way historical archaeologists have investigated the role of alcohol in society. I show that historical archaeology has made many valuable
contributions to our understanding of historical drinking practices. I argue that historical archaeology offers unique insights into drinking patterns and has helped shed new light on the way alcohol has shaped capitalism, fostered colonial agendas, and helped people confront the anxieties of the modern world. The book includes a case study from my work at a cave site in Barbados used by enslaved peoples during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The cave was a liminal space on the plantation landscape and it provided an occasional sanctuary for enslaved peoples from surrounding sugar estates. Alcohol use at the site helped establish the role of the cave as a temporary place of escape from the challenges of daily life on Barbadian sugar plantations.

PhD, U of Florida, 2001

Courses Taught

Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Historical Archaeology, Alcohol and Culture, Archaeological Theory, and Introduction to Archaeology