2018 Conference

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

March 16-18, 2018
College of Charleston

A Preliminary Conference Schedule is now available!

Registration details will be forthcoming in January 2018.
*Questions regarding the conference can be directed to freedomsconference@gmail.com

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
In honor of the 150th Anniversary of South Carolina’s 1868 Constitutional Convention, South Carolina’s multiracial 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 host 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), the conference will feature panels and presentations germane to the larger topic of gaining and losing freedoms. The conference will be held March 16th-17th, 2018.

Topics of interest 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 presentations to take an expansive definition to Freedom, Reconstruction, and Atlantic World. In light of CLAW’s transnational focus we are particularly interested in highlighting work that takes a globally comparative approach, thinking about lessons to be learned from Reconstruction in the United States when compared to analogous post-conflict settlements.

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).

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.

CONFERENCE FORMAT AND POST-CONFERENCE PUBLICATION
As with a number of prior CLAW gatherings, this conference will take the form of a symposium where participants will discuss pre-circulated papers. 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).

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.