Matthew C. Reilly

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Main Affiliation


Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs

Black Studies Program

Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Archaeology
  • Atlantic World History
  • Caribbean
  • Class and Labor
  • Colonialism
  • Gender
  • Irish Diaspora
  • Race and Whiteness
  • Slavery


North Academic Center


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Matthew Reilly

Matthew C. Reilly


Dr. Reilly is an anthropological archaeologist interested in race formation processes, whiteness, and colonial modernity in the Atlantic world. His work on the Caribbean island of Barbados, the subject of his forthcoming book, Archaeology below the Cliff: Race, Class, and Redlegs in Barbadian Sugar Society, explores how a group of poor whites known as the Redlegs fit within the social matrix of a system of sugar production and slavery. He is currently working on two related projects in Barbados and Liberia. His work in Barbados focuses on heritage management and the process of building futures with the material remains of the dark histories of plantation slavery. He is also collaborating on a project in the West African nation of Liberia investigating a small village established by Barbadian settlers in 1865. The project uses archaeological and ethnographic approaches to explore the process of “reverse diaspora” and settler-native interactions. At the heart of his research is a critical exploration of the complex relationships between slavery and freedom, colonialism and sovereignty, race, class, and capitalism, the social construction of race and structural racism, and the past, present, and future.


Ph.D. in Anthropology (2014), Syracuse University
M.A. in Social Sciences (2009), University of Chicago
B.S. in Anthropology and American Studies (2007), University of Maryland, College Park

Courses Taught

Introduction to Archaeology
Human Origins
The Archaeology of Race and Slavery
Pirates of the Caribbean
Archaeological Methods

Research Interests

Dr. Reilly’s research interests surround the intersections of race, class, gender, colonialism, and capitalism in the Atlantic World. He is particularly interested in the origins of modern racial discourse and the development of whiteness as a racial identity and ideological concept. His interests also include archaeological approaches to time, materiality, memory, and praxis. His work draws from a diverse number of scholarly traditions which include critical whiteness studies, Marxism, postcolonial theory, radical Caribbean thought, cultural studies, critical race theory, Atlantic World history, materiality, and material culture studies.



Reilly, Matthew C. (under revision). Archaeology below the Cliff: Race, Class, and Redlegs in Barbadian Sugar Society. The University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, AL.

Edited Collections

Reilly, Matthew C., guest editor (under review). Archaeology and Futurity. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Reilly, Matthew C. (under review). “Archaeologies of Expectation.” Journal of Contemporary Archaeology.

Handler, Jerome S. and Matthew C. Reilly (2017). “White Slaves” in the Early English Caribbean: The Case of Barbados. New West Indian Guide. 91: 30-55.

Reilly, Matthew C. (2016). Archaeologies of Instability: Order and Disorder in Colonial Barbados. Journal of Social Archaeology. 16(2): 216-237.

Reilly, Matthew C. (2016). “Poor White” Recollections and Artifact Reuse in Barbados: Considerations for Archaeologies of Poverty. International Journal of Historical Archaeology. 20(2): 318-340.

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Matthew C. Reilly (2014). The Archaeology of Settler Farms and Early Plantation Life in Seventeenth-Century Barbados. Slavery and Abolition. 35(3): 399-417.

Book Chapters

Reilly, Matthew C. (under review). Intimacies and Attachments: Households and Hucksters on the Barbadian Plantation. In Intimate Economies by K. Fogle and J. Nyman (eds.). University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL.

Reilly, Matthew C. (2016). “Poor Whites” on the Peripheries: “Poor White” and Afro-Barbadian Interaction on the Plantation.  In Roots of Empire: Archaeologies of Freedom and Slavery in the Caribbean by L. Bates, J. Delle, and J. Chenoweth (eds.). University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL, pp. 49-78.

Reilly, Matthew C. (2015). The Politics of Work, “Poor Whites”, and Plantation Capitalism in Barbados. In Historical Archaeologies of Capitalism by Mark P. Leone and Jocelyn E. Knauf (eds.). Springer Press: New York, NY, pp. 375-397.

Reilly, Matthew C. (2015). The Irish in Barbados: Labour, Landscapes and Legacies. In Caribbean Irish Connections by A. Donnell, M. McGarrity, and E. O’Callaghan (eds.). University of the West Indies Press: Kingston, Jamaica, pp. 47-63.

Handler, Jerome S. and Matthew C. Reilly (2015). Father Antoine Biet’s Account Revisited: Perspectives on Irish Catholics in Mid-Seventeenth Century Barbados. In Caribbean Irish Connections by A. Donnell, M. McGarrity, and E. O’Callaghan (eds.). Kingston: University of the West Indies Press: Kingston, Jamaica, pp. 33-46.

Journal Articles and Other Publications

Hogan, Liam, Laura McAtackney, and Matthew C. Reilly (2016). The Irish in the Anglo-Caribbean: Servants or Slaves? History Ireland. March-April: 18-22.

Reilly, Matthew C. (2014). The School of Female Industry: “Poor White” Education in the Era of Slavery. Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. Vol. LVV: 94-118.

Reilly, Matthew C. (2013). Archaeological Approaches to the “Poor Whites” of Barbados: Tired Stereotypes and New Directions.  Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society.  Vol. LVIV: 1-27.

Armstrong, Douglas V., Karl S. Watson, and Matthew C. Reilly (2012). The 1646 Hapcott Map, Fort – (Trent) Plantation, St. James, Barbados: A Significant Resource for Research on Early Colonial Settlement in Barbados. Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. Vol. LVIII: 137-154.