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Graduate Teaching Fellow; Graduate Coordinator for the Race, Difference, and Power Concentration; SAS TA Advocate
Graduate Student

Advisor: Dr. Anna Agbe-Davies
Smith Building 08

About Cayla

I am an anthropological archaeologist who studies the recent past, how communities today engage with their history and heritage, and how the resulting narratives and relationships shape our world. I was born and raised in East Tennessee, which fostered my interests in the histories of labor, race, identity, and power in Appalachia and the American South.

Research Interests

Carceral Systems, Labor, Class, Race, and Identity, Appalachia, the American South, Historical and Contemporary Archaeologies, Oral Histories, Geographic Information Systems, Public Outreach & Education, Community-Based Participatory Research, Archaeological Ethics, Archaeological Pedagogy

Research Background

My current doctoral dissertation research focuses on the lives, labor, and legacies of the imprisoned men, women, and children who were forced to build the Western North Carolina Railroad through the Blue Ridge Mountains during the late 19th century under the convict leasing system. I am examining this history through archaeological methods, archival research, spatial analysis, and community memory. This work engages with community partners in Western North Carolina and welcomes input and participation from interested individuals. Please reach out to me in order to learn more about opportunities to get involved.


MA, University of Alabama, 2019; BA, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2017

Previous Courses

ANTH 101: Introduction to General Anthropology
ANTH 151: Anthropological Perspectives on Food and Culture


2023 Westmont, V. Camille and Cayla B. Colclasure. “An Archaeology of Convict Leasing”. Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage."

2023 Colclasure, Cayla B., C. Fred Andrus, and Elliot H. Blair. “Of Missions and Marshes: Stable Isotope Analysis of Mission-era Guale Oyster Harvesting on St. Catherines Island, Georgia.” Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology.


2024 Cayla Colclasure and Zoe Schwandt “Specters and Spectators: Paranormal Tourism at Historic Sites of Confinement in the American South.” Paper presented at the 87th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans, LA.
2023 Cayla Colclasure ""‘Stripes but no Stars’: Preliminary Research into Incarcerated Labor on the Western North Carolina Railroad” Paper presented at the 79th Annual SEAC, Chattanooga, TN.
2023 Cayla Colclasure “’Hellish in Principle and Brutal in Practice’: Preliminary Investigations of 19th Century Prison Labor in North Carolina.” Paper presented at the Society for Historical Archaeology’s 2023 Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Lisbon, Portugal.
2019 Cayla Colclasure “Guale Foodways and Marine Invertebrates During the Mission Era on St. Catherines Island, GA” Paper presented at the 76th Annual SEAC, Jackson, MS.
2019 Cayla Colclasure “Spanish Missionization and Indigenous Foodways: Analyzing Mission-era Shell Middens on St. Catherines Island, GA” Paper presented at the 84th Annual SEAC, Albuquerque, NM
*2018 Cayla Colclasure “Zooarchaeological Analysis of Mission-era Shell Middens on St. Catherines Island, GA.” Paper presented at the 75th Annual SEAC, Augusta, GA.
2018 Cayla Colclasure “Food, Identity, and Colonization: Archaeological Perspectives from St. Catherines Island, GA.” Paper presented at the SFA 2018 Graduate Student Conference, Oxford, MS.

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