The Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) at the College of Charleston was established to promote scholarship on the Lowcountry, the Atlantic World, and the connections between the two. The CLAW program's mission is to strengthen the College's instructional program and to promote the public understanding of the region and its place in a broader international context by fostering research that illuminates the constant contact and cultural exchange among the various Atlantic cultures, societies, and ethnicities.
Over the last decade CLAW has organized and hosted more than a dozen academic conferences, its publication series with the University of South Carolina Press has issued multiple volumes, and each semester it arranges a series of public lectures, faculty seminars, and co-sponsored symposia with local cultural heritage organizations (such as the Avery Research Center, the South Carolina Historical Society, The Waring Historical Library, and the History Department at the Citadel). It has also served as curator for a number of physical exhibits and has engaged in robust education outreach - most notably the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade project in partnership with UNESCO.
There are two primary goals of the program.
Goal 1: To encourage an understanding of the economic, social, political and cultural history of the South Carolina Lowcountry, the broader Atlantic World, and the connections between the two.
Goal 2: To foster research that illuminates the constant contact and cultural exchange among the various Atlantic cultures, societies, and ethnicities of the Atlantic World.
- Public Programming (lectures, seminars)
- Academic Conferences
- Publication Series
- Education Outreach (K-12)
- Physical and Online Exhibits
- Support for Graduate Student Research
- Digital Library
The Program aims to carry out its mission by assisting and provinding a variety of activities and resources including:
- International Conferences
- An Interactive Civil War Timeline
- The Carolina and Atlantic World Research Guide is maintained by James Williams, the Assistant Dean for Public Services at the Addlestone Library. It directs researchers to resources on the topic of the Carolina region and its connection to the Atlantic World.
- The Lowcountry Digital Library documents the history and culture of the lowcountry region of South Carolina through the digitization of rare documents, photographs, and other cultural heritage materials. It's mission is to cultivate the creation of digital information in appropriate formats across disciplines in support of scholarly inquiry. In order to provide a well rounded digital collection, the library works with partner institutions in a collaborative manner to ensure the overall quality of it's content. Moreover, it provides professional training and support for archive, library, and museum professionals throughout the region.
- The After Slavery website is intended as an online resource for those who want to understand that momentous effort - and its defeat - as former slaves and their adversaries contested the meaning and scope of freedom after the American Civil War. Aimed at historians and aspiring historians of slave emancipation and its aftermath, the site is a collaborative work-in-progress involving a team of four scholars based in the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, whose current research is focused on labor, race and citizenship in the post-emancipation Carolinas.
- The Lowcountry Digital History Initiative project (LDHI) is a digital public history project hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) at the College of Charleston. Funded through a pilot project grant from the Humanities Council of South Carolina and a major grant award from the Dorothy and Gaylord Donnelley Foundation, LDHI serves as a digital consultation service, scholarly editorial resource, and online platform for partner institutions and collaborative scholars to translate multi-institutional archival materials, historic landscape features and structures, and scholarly research into digital public history exhibition projects.
Historian Peter Wood characterized the Carolina Lowcountry as the thin neck in an hourglass,
a place where individual grains from Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean were funneled together, only to be fanned
out across the South as time passed. The Lowcountry, then, has been both a recipient of goods, peoples, and ideas
from across the Atlantic, and a conduit from which to distribute goods, peoples, and ideas. As such, the Lowcountry
has played an important role in the Atlantic World and in the creation of American culture. As the major seaport
for the southeast and the Lowcountry, Charleston reflects, in its history, culture, and economy, its reliance
on the Atlantic and its connections to the wider Atlantic world.
The College of Charleston is ideally suited to establish a program on the Lowcountry and the Atlantic World. Since its establishment over two centuries ago, the College of Charleston has nurtured teaching, learning, and research in the humanities, social, and biological sciences. As a part of that commitment, the College has emphasized the study of the region in which it is located, a region with one of the richest historical legacies in the nation. As the Program’s name suggests, research and teaching about the Carolina Lowcountry demands an international focus in light of the constant contact and cultural exchange among the various Atlantic cultures and societies.
This program aims to foster, encourage, and advance the teaching and study of this process of change and exchange as it was experienced here in the Carolina Lowcountry but also in light of the experiences of others who have shared in the same process since 1492. Currently scores of scholars in various disciplines concentrate on various aspects of the historical aspects of the same process in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, or Latin America. The Program brings together these scholars to share and develop a more global perspective on local histories.
Of central concern in such an endeavor is the process and the consequences of the cultural exchanges among Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans. Such a perspective demands from researchers and teachers an international focus which illuminates the constant contact and cultural exchange among the various Atlantic cultures and societies. Placing the Lowcountry in the context of the broader Atlantic world encourages our students and the wider community to appreciate the larger international context of their own culture and identity and thereby challenge them to move beyond their immediate, personal comprehension of their background, their present, and their future.
The Program’s mission is not primarily research in the traditional sense, as research is primarily pursued by individuals within departments, but a part of the Program’s mission is to encourage learning and the dissemination of results of that learning. For example, the Program sponsored a major conference in May 1995 entitled “New Directions in Colonial South Carolina Studies.” The conference attracted over 125 people, including prominent scholars from across the United States, Canada, and Europe. An edited volume of essays based on the papers presented at the conference was published.