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Congratulations to Dr. Vernon Burton!

Posted on October 31, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Vernon Burton for being honored at The Governor’s Awards in the Humanities ceremony on October 19, 2017 at Hilton Columbia Center. Dr. Burton was one of four recipients at this year’s awards luncheon along with The Auntie Karen Foundation (Karen Alexander), The Hon. Betty Jo Rhea, and Dr. Dixie Goswami.
Now celebrating its 26th anniversary, the Governor’s Awards in the Humanities recognize outstanding achievement in humanities research, teaching, and scholarship; institutional and individual participation in helping communities in South Carolina better understand our cultural heritage or ideas and issues related to the humanities; excellence defining South Carolina’s cultural life to the national or world; and exemplary support for public humanities programs.
Dr. Burton gave a power acceptance speech that we believe is worth posting for all to read…
I am honored and humbled, especially since at this same time our friend Dixie Goswami, a hero to both Georganne and me, receives this award. I am grateful that my daughters took time off from busy lives, and brought grandchildren, to share this day.
It is an exciting time to be a historian in S.C. I grew up in the farming- textile community of Ninety Six. In 1969, I left for graduate school at Princeton, bracketed by two brief stints in the Army. I then spent 34 years at the University of Illinois researching and teaching the American South. I never wanted to leave home and my beloved mother, and when I met Georganne I told her I was only temporarily in Illinois until I could get back to South Carolina. One of the books I wrote, The Age of Lincoln, allowed me to retire and return home. Things have certainly changed dramatically in SC since 1969, and people here no longer care much for Lincoln, although I argue that he was not only the greatest president, but the greatest theologian of the 19th century, and a great southerner. The culture wars continue their cruel effect on democracy.
At least twice, our state has been at the forefront of United States history. In 1860, we led the nation in the wrong direction into civil war. Every elementary student knows the story, or at least a version of it; and on courthouse squares, and on the state house grounds, we celebrate the defeated Confederacy. Yet, South Carolina also led the nation during the Civil Rights Movement. Brown v. Board, which ended segregation, began in the 1940s when an extraordinary group of African American families in rural Clarendon County demanded a decent education for their children. Few know of these courageous heroes or their leader Rev. Joseph DeLaine, or their few white allies, who made our state and nation a more democratic and inclusive one. No monuments celebrate them nor their hard-fought victory.
South Carolina again has the opportunity to lead the nation in the right direction and to be on the right side of history. In the aftermath of the June 17, 2015 terrible tragedy, the Mother Emanuel Church massacre, I was interviewed by NPR and was not optimistic that the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia would be removed from the state house grounds. South Carolinians, however, illustrated the best of our shared culture, and consistent with their faith, the families of the victims of Mother Emanuel forgave the murderer Dylan Roof, and their acts of grace changed the debate. The word “grace” permeates the legislative debates on the flag. I believe that is why white legislators voted to furl the flag, some understanding for the first time what the Confederate flag symbolized to African Americans; and why it was so appropriate that President Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the memorial service.
People do not learn their history from the books historians write (or my grandchildren would have a larger college fund). We learn our history from what our communities tell us is important, by what they memorialize and to whom they erect statues
Most important for learning is our state house grounds, and today every single monument or statue to a named individual recognizes only white supporters of slavery, segregation, or white supremacy. I acknowledge a monument to African American denizens (who until 1930 comprised the majority of South Carolina’s population), but no monument honors an African American individual or individual’s achievements. We can rectify this situation and help end, or at least moderate the worst of the culture wars by erecting statues and celebrating South Carolinians who went against the grain and fought against white supremacy and for justice and “grace.” Hosts of African American and white South Carolinians fought the good fight and can be role models for generations to come. We must balance our public history presentations.
Growing up in Ninety Six, I learned from a marker commemorating Congressman Preston Brooks’ 1856 caning of abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner in the Senate Chamber. That marker signified that the way to be celebrated was to brutally beat those with whom you disagree. (It is no wonder we were state champs in football!) There was another local hero, but because of segregation, I never heard of the long-time president of Morehouse College, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, until I met him during religious emphasis week my senior year at Furman. Today, that great theologian, spiritual god-father of the Civil Rights Movement, and mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated and recognized in Ninety Six, and I encourage you to visit the Benjamin E. Mays Historical Site in Greenwood where a statue will be dedicated to Dr. Mays Nov. 4. It is an excellent example of how we can do better, how a community can recognize an apostle, advocate, and example of peace and “grace,” an alternative role model for all youth, black and white.Thank you.

CFP: “THE VESEY CONSPIRACY at 200: BLACK ANTISLAVERY and the ATLANTIC WORLD”

Posted on October 6, 2017

CFP: “THE VESEY CONSPIRACY at 200: BLACK ANTISLAVERY and the ATLANTIC WORLD”

In preparation for a volume of essays to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the “Denmark Vesey Conspiracy” of 1822, the Carolina Lowcountry in the Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the College of Charleston will hold a small conference on enslaved and free black anti-slavery, February 8-10, 2019.

Known to scholars mainly as a conspiracy of Carolina slaves, the “Denmark Vesey Conspiracy” also ensnared free black people and should be treated as a part of the broader black anti-slavery movement. Some of the rebels were aware of the Missouri Compromise debates over slavery. They compared Carolina whites to those national leaders who they thought wanted to end slavery. Some of the rebels were aware of the Sierra Leone colony of freed slaves and probably had known free and enslaved people who emigrated there in 1821. Some were aware of revolutionary Haiti. Some were born in Africa. In the truest sense, there were African, American, and Atlantic dimensions to the 1822 rebels’ organizing.

To observe the anniversary of 1822, we welcome proposals seeking to understand black anti-slavery in the wider Atlantic world, including but not limited to Africa, the Caribbean, and Carolina. Proposals may include but are not limited to:

Rebellions in Africa
Archives of rebellion
Women in rebellions
Information networks
Religion and spirituality
Empire and colonization
The archive of antislavery
African resistance strategies
Cultural memory of rebellion
Gender/sexuality and rebellion
Rebellions & the Middle Passage
Criminalization of antislavery activity
Legacies of the repression of rebellions
Rebellions against the internal slave trade
Resistance and the internal (U.S.) slave trade
Haiti and black anti-slavery in the Atlantic World
Black activists and the politics of resistance to slavery
Black antislavery and subsequent social movements (such as #BLM)…

 

Charleston is an apt setting for these discussions. Nearby to Stono Creek, the namesake of one of the most significant slave rebellions in American history, Charleston was also a major entrepot for enslaved people trafficked from elsewhere in the Atlantic world. The College of Charleston was founded shortly before Vesey’s birth, and sits in the midst of the neighborhoods in which the uprising planners lived and worked. Tours will be organized as part of the conference.

To propose a paper, send a CV and a 250 word abstract to James O’Neil Spady (jspady@soka.edu) by January 8, 2018. Authors of accepted proposals will be asked to submit their completed essays by January 8, 2019. The complete essays will be distributed to conference attendees in advance, workshopped during sessions, and considered for a proposed volume marking the 200th anniversary of the Vesey Conspiracy in 2022.

2018 Conference “Freedoms Gained and Lost: Reinterpreting Reconstruction in the Atlantic World”

Posted on June 21, 2017

Freedoms Gained and Lost: Reinterpreting Reconstruction in the Atlantic World

 Call For Papers

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of South Carolina’s 1868 Constitutional Convention, South Carolina’s biracial Constitutional Convention that fundamentally changed the state by ushering in legal reforms, provided for public education, expanded the franchise, and promised numerous other rights, the College of Charleston will be hosting a conference entitled “Freedoms Gained and Lost: Reinterpreting Reconstruction in the Atlantic World.” In the decades following the 1868 conventions some of those rights guaranteed on paper by the convention would not always be protected or even remembered.

In partnership with various local, national, and international cultural heritage organizations, academic institutions, and historic sites, the Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World Program (CLAW), invite proposals for panels, and individual papers about the larger topic of gaining and losing freedoms. The conference will be held March 16th-17th, 2018.

Topics might include (but are not limited to) women’s rights; reinterpreting the Reconstruction Acts; enfranchisement and disfranchisement; access to education; civil rights activism;; the impact on people of African Descent; the ending of slavery in the Atlantic World; the meaning of emancipation; the modern legal principles Reconstruction created; Reconstruction from an international perspective; the lasting social and cultural legacies from Reconstruction; and the historical memory of the era, especially as manifested in public sites, literature, music, performance, film, and visual art. Today, Reconstruction is often seen as both a “Splendid Failure” and the foundation of the modern Civil Rights movement. As such organizers intend for proposals to take an expansive definition to Freedom, Reconstruction, and Atlantic World when considering proposals. In light of CLAW’s transnational focus we are particularly interested in papers that take a transnational or comparative approach, thinking about lessons to be learned from US Reconstruction in comparable post-conflict settlements.

Special Focus:

Mindful of the United Nations declaration of 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, and the conference location in Charleston, South Carolina, the planners particularly encourage proposals relevant to the history of Reconstruction’s race and class legacies in Charleston and historically interconnected international sites—though we welcome proposals on a range of issues related to the larger theme of gaining or losing freedom in geographic areas throughout the Atlantic World and beyond.

 Proposals, Conference Format, and Post-Conference Publication:

Please submit panel or paper proposals with session title, presentation title(s), contact information, and institutional affiliation for all participants in PDF or Word format to Adam Domby at freedomsconference@gmail.com. Deadline for proposals is September 1st, 2017. Paper proposals should be around 250 words long. Panels should include abstracts for each paper and an additional summary of the panel’s goals. As with a number of prior CLAW gatherings, this conference will take the form of a symposium where participants will discuss pre-circulated papers. Thus, if your paper is accepted, we will expect a complete version of the paper by February 1st for pre-circulation among participants. This allows presenters to pre-circulate full-length articles rather than the often-truncated versions that are read aloud. At the conference, presenters will then have a maximum of ten minutes to talk about the paper with the bulk of each session being devoted to discussion of the papers that participants will already have read.

Holding the conference in this manner allows us to move toward publication of selected papers in a greatly expedited fashion. Immediately after the conference, the organizers will complete their selection of essays to include in an edited volume. Final versions of papers for the volume will then be due some three months after the March conference (end of June 2018).

Keynote

Keynote address will be given by Bruce Baker, author of What Reconstruction Meant: Historical Memory in the American South (2007), and editor of both Remembering Reconstruction: Struggles Over the Meaning of America’s Most Tumultuous Era (2017), and After Slavery: Race, Labor, and Citizenship in the Reconstruction South (2013).

Some Questions to Consider:

Did Reconstruction fail? If so, why did it fail? If not, what did it accomplish?

Do we need a new interpretation of Reconstruction? Does its traditional periodization still work?

How does the public understand Reconstruction?

How does Reconstruction continue to shape popular culture?

What role does Reconstruction play in modern politics?

Reconstruction is often viewed as a southern story. Yet, the South is inherently tied to the rest of the world. How did Reconstruction impact the rest of the world?

How has Reconstruction continued to impact the Atlantic World?

How were international understandings of race and race relations shaped by Reconstruction?

How does the South’s post-emancipation experience compare to other parts of the Atlantic world’s which experienced emancipation? How does the South’s post war period compare to other parts Atlantic world that experienced similar post-war periods?

How did Reconstruction influence the Civil Rights movement?

How did education shape Reconstruction and its legacy?

How did the Civil War influence Reconstruction in ways previously unnoticed?

Public Exhibit

The College of Charleston Libraries will host an original exhibit curated by historians and archivists showcasing the documentary heritage of Reconstruction and the post-emancipation era in South Carolina and the Atlantic world. Informed by cultural heritage objects from repositories across the region, the display will offer the public the opportunity to engage with sources that inform the (re)interpretation of the freedoms gained and lost during the Reconstruction era.

Transforming Public History conference a great success

Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World” drew over 280 participants from Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, and the United Kingdom as well as all over the US.  The keynote lecture by Dr Lonnie Bunch, founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, was delivered in Mother Emanuel Church, just two days before the anniversary of the dreadful massacre perpetrated there in 2015. Dr Bunch’s speech was powerful and inspiring. The following day saw a conversation with black British author Caryl Phillips, much of whose work has touched on issues of race and the legacy of the international slave trade. In addition to those two public events, a series of workshops, plenary sessions, and panel presentations addressed the many and various issues of race and social justice that confront public historians as they attempt to interpret historic sites and to render historical narratives more properly inclusive.

Rather than comment further on the conference, let me refer you to a blog-post by one of the conference participants, Angela Sutton, on the SmartWomenWrite site. Angela describes herself as  “juiced up from one of the most thoughtfully constructed conferences I’ve attended in a long while.” Take a read to see why.

Former CLAW director, Dr David Shields, wins 2017 SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Posted on April 12, 2017

Dr David Sheilds, the Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina and former director of the Carolina Lowcountry Atlantic World Program, was recently awarded the 2017 SEC Faculty Achievement Award for his teaching, research and scholarship which focuses on early American literature, cinematic portrait photography and the revival of Southern foods. Recipients of the SEC Faculty Achievement Award are awarded $5000 (honorarium) and are also nominated for the SEC Professor of the Year Award.

Throughout his career, Dr Sheilds,has written and produced numerous monographs and articles for both the academic sphere as well as the culinary world exploring the role of food in Southern culture. He has also published extensively on American literature during the early Republic.

Outside of academia, Dr Sheilds is also the chairman of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation which seeks to advance the sustainable restoration and preservation of Carolina Gold Rice and other heirloom grains and raise public awareness of the importance of historic rice lands and heirloom agriculture.

Congratulations!

North American Society for Oceanic History 43rd Annual Conference

Posted on April 10, 2017

On Monday, May 15th, the College of Charleston will host the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) 43rd annual conference. This year’s conference will see professors and academics from across the world present papers covering a range of topic that pertain to “Ventures into the Western Ocean: Global Maritime Communities, Commerce, and Conflicts.” Presentations will explore a wide range of maritime connections, cultural landscapes, or an interweaving of both to examine the meaning and processes of our maritime heritage.

Christophe Boucher, Associate Professor of History at the College of Charleston, will be presenting a paper which explores the role of Native Americans in the fall of Fort Caroline in the 16th Century.  Prof. Boucher said that he is delighted that the College of Charleston has been afforded the opportunity to host such a prestigious conference, stating that “the upcoming conference presents an excellent opportunity for those within the discipline to remain engaged within the realms of oceanic history.”

Further information on the The North American Society for Oceanic History and its mission can be found here.

 

Carter Hudgins at CLAW

Posted on February 15, 2017

On February 8th, 2017, Dr. Carter Hudgins, Director and CEO of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, delivered the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program’s first Wells Fargo Distinguished Lecture of 2017 entitled “The Past and Future of Drayton Hall.”
The lecture traced the development of Drayton Hall from its beginnings in the eighteenth century by using the wealth of material artifacts found on the site and recovered from archives and collections from around the Lowcountry. Through meticulous archeological and historical study, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust hopes to reconstruct the lives of the estate’s residents, including John Drayton and the many enslaved people who worked his surrounding plantations.
The work of Dr. Hudgins and his team have uncovered a surprising history, and many artifacts discovered at Drayton Hall are found nowhere else in North America, including rare black Delft ceramics, one-of-a-kind patterns from China, and other rare products from around the world, showing that Drayton participated in global trade networks. However, according to Hudgins, John Drayton also placed a high value on domestically produced products and native landscapes, and many of the furniture pieces were made right here in Charleston at the workshop of Thomas Elfe. The gardens also represented the Lowcountry’s unique style, and while the design was inspired by the grand English estates, Drayton utilized native plants and trees and worked with the low-lying shape of the Ashley river area to create a distinctly local landscape. According to Dr. Hudgins, the Drayton Hall site is a convergence of different cultures and histories as represented by a particularly important piece of recently discovered ceramic that was produced and used by enslaved people of African descent. The artifact strongly reflects the blended ceramic techniques of Europe, West Africa, and southeastern Native America.
Dr. Hudgins also discussed Drayton Hall’s plans to build a visitor’s center and fulfill its goal to become a premiere archeological site dedicated to researching, documenting, and preserving the Lowcountry’s unique history. While Dr. Hudgin’s research has uncovered a tremendous amount of material history, he said they have barely scratched the surface of what the Drayton site can teach us about eighteenth-century Charleston and the lives of those who inhabited the area.
Many College of Charleston students and faculty attended the talk, and Dr. Hudgin’s research also attracted a number of interested members from the community. For more information on Drayton Hall’s preservation efforts, please visit www.draytonhallreimagined.org

Hines Prize 2017: Call for Submissions

Posted on December 8, 2016

The Hines Prize is awarded to the best first book relating to any aspect of the Carolina Lowcountry and/or the Atlantic World. The prize carries a cash award of $1,000 and preferential consideration by the University of South Carolina Press for the CLAW Program’s book series. If you have a manuscript on a topic pertaining to the Carolina Lowcountry and/or Atlantic World, please send a copy to CLAW Director Simon Lewis at-
leiwss@cofc.edu before May 15, 2017. Graduate students are also eligible to compete for the Hines Prize if they have a relevant manuscript.

CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT: “Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World” Call for Proposals DEADLINE EXTENSION to December 15, 2016

Posted on November 1, 2016

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CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT: “Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World” Call for Proposals DEADLINE EXTENSION to December 15, 2016

Conference website: http://claw.cofc.edu/conferences/2017-conference/

“Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World” will be hosted by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program, and the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston on June 14-17, 2017. Conference planners are seeking proposals for workshops, roundtable discussions, panels, and individual papers from public history professionals, scholars, educators, librarians, archivists, and artists that address issues surrounding the interpretation, preservation, memorialization, commemoration, and public application of major themes in local, regional, and Atlantic World history.

For information on how to submit a proposal, please see: http://claw.cofc.edu/conferences/2017-conference/

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
In partnership with various local, national, and international cultural heritage organizations, academic institutions, and historic sites, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World Program (CLAW), and the Addlestone Library are hosting a conference on transforming public history practices from Charleston to the Atlantic World to be held at the College of Charleston and other partner sites in Charleston, South Carolina, June 15-17, 2017, with a pre-conference day of workshops on June 14th.

SPECIAL FOCUS
Based on the United Nation’s declaration of 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, and the conference location in Charleston, South Carolina, on the second anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Mother Emanuel Church, the conference will particularly highlight speakers and topics relevant to transforming practices of interpreting the history of slavery and its race and class legacies in Charleston and historically interconnected local, regional, and international sites.

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE THEME
Starting in the fifteenth century, the Atlantic Ocean became a corridor of trade and migration—both voluntary and coerced—between Africa, Europe, and the Americas. In the centuries that followed, the violent encounters, power struggles, cultural exchanges, labor systems, and economic ties surrounding these trans-Atlantic connections became ever more complex and globally intertwined, producing distinctive race, class, and gender experiences and hierarchies throughout the Atlantic World and beyond. How have cultural heritage institutions, public historians, scholars, artists, activists, filmmakers, and educators in various international regions engaged with and depicted the diverse histories of the Atlantic World? How have these representations changed over time, and how will they continue to change in the twenty-first century?

QUESTIONS? Contact averyconferences@gmail.com

CLAW Newsletter

Posted on October 24, 2016

The Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World is delighted to make available its 2016-2017 newsletter. Inside, you will be able to find further information on the CLAW program, including our upcoming events for the academic year.

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