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

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 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

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.


North American Society for Oceanic History 43rd Annual Conference

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

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

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


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

Conference website: https://live-carolina-lowcountry-and-atlantic-world-program.pantheonsite.io/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: https://live-carolina-lowcountry-and-atlantic-world-program.pantheonsite.io/conferences/2017-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.

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.

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

Revered Lowcountry Historian Charles Joyner Dies: CLAW Executive Director Vernon Burton Pays Tribute.

Renowned historian Charles Joyner died September 13, 2016, at the age of 81.  Joyner’s career is not easy to summarize because, to employ one of his own phrases, it “stubbornly resists synthesis.” Charles Joyner has lived in the South most of his life—writing, teaching, and lecturing on southern history from slavery and the Civil War to segregation and the Civil Rights movement, from politicians and generals to rebels and reporters; Southern literature from William Faulkner to William Styron, Julia Peterkin to Natasha Trethewey; Southern folk culture from tales and legends to music and material culture; and Southern music from ballads to blues, spirituals to classical, country and bluegrass to rock and jazz.  Much of his work has explored what he has described as “pursuing large questions in small places.” He has pursued some of the most important questions close to his home, such as the influence of folk culture on the civil rights movement on Johns Island, the influence of assimilation on identity in the Jewish community of Georgetown, and the emergence of Gullah culture in the slave communities along the Waccamaw River.

Born in 1935, Joyner grew up mainly in the Pee Dee region of northeast South Carolina.  Joyner studied at Presbyterian College and earned two Ph.D.’s at the University of South Carolina and the University of Pennsylvania.  He taught at multiple universities before serving for 27 years as a history professor at Coastal Carolina in Conway, where he was the Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture.

Joyner came of age in the segregationist South.  Yet, his belief in justice and his empathy for others led him to join the Civil Rights crusade in early adulthood.  Those experiences of a white southern liberal who was active in the Civil Rights Movement motivated and inspired Joyner in his exploration of the intersections of African American and white cultures.  Because he appreciated the value of all people and their stories, he weaved their stories together as they flowed through Southern history and heritage.

Joyner is widely respected for his award-winning book Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community, which chronicles slave life in the community of All Saints Parish in Georgetown County, South Carolina.  Published in 1984, it is one of the finest and most intimate books ever written on slavery.  Joyner’s influence extended far beyond Down by the Riverside.  He authored numerous books, articles, and essays; he made documentary films, taught university classes, and lectured nationally and internationally on Southern history and culture.

Joyner was also a musician.  With a historical fascination with the roots of various musical genres, he used his musical talent to inspire others in their activism, their studies, and their joy.  He told folktales and sang traditional songs at local elementary schools as well as with groups of distinguished historians.

His numerous honors and awards include the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities from the South Carolina Humanities Council.  He served as a president of the Southern Historical Association and of the North Carolina Folklore Society.  He was an honorary life member of the British American Nineteenth-Century Historians.  In 2011 Coastal Carolina University hosted a conference: “Writing the South in Fact, Fiction, and Poetry.”  This group of scholars, novelists, and poets of the American South gathered together to honor Charles Joyner.

Joyner is survived by his wife Jean Dusenbury Joyner, his son Wesley, his daughter Hannah, her husband David, and Joyner’s grandson Abraham.

We have lost a truly great historian and a great humanitarian, and for me an even better friend.  He made the world a better place, and the world is less because of our loss. We shall not see the likes of a Chaz Joyner again.


Orville Vernon Burton


Dr Nicole Maskiell Review

On September 27th 2016, Nicole Maskiell, an assistant professor of History at the University of South Carolina- Columbia delivered a lecture entitled “The Runaway Who Passed as Slave Catcher: Native Slavery and the Strange Histories of the Color Line” as the CLAW program’s first Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture of this academic year.

Dr Maskiell’s lecture represents her research into the histories of race and slavery in the colonial northeast, especially New York and New Jersey. Using a range of slave runaway advertisements between about 1680 and 1770, Dr Maskiell demonstrated how both slaveholders and  enslaved people  used “Indian” and “mulatto” identities, identities that over time hardened into the racial binary of “white” and “Negro.” The existence of multiple ethnicities  in colonial New York and New Jersey was ultimately responsible for shaping the  development of race and identity in the colonial period and beyond.

Dr. Maskiell’s work refines the contours of our understanding surrounding concepts of race and identity in the colonial period insofar as she successfully demonstrates that they existed outside of a binary. More importantly, failure to consider identities outside of the dichotomy risks losing the rich and important voices of enslaved peoples.

Dr. Maskiell’s talk also placed considerable emphasis on how slave masters established a network throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland to assist in the recapture of enslaved people.

The talk was extremely well attended by the College students of all standing.  The high number of attendees demonstrates that there is still significant interest in recovering the lost voices from this nation’s past.

Lisa Covert, a member of the History faculty at the College, stated that:

“Dr. Maskiell presented fascinating research on the complex, multiethnic context for the evolution of ideas about race in the early Americas. Her research reveals how various actors subtly deployed racial categories to meet their own needs, whether that meant tracking down a runaway or carefully evading capture. She demonstrated the challenges of piecing together the stories of those so often marginalized in the historical record by inviting the audience to interact with her sources. In so doing, however, Dr. Maskiell also revealed how fragments can come together to speak volumes. ”