2024 Conference Call for Proposals: “Archives in the Atlantic”

Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston
May 16 -18, 2024

Scope of Conference

Archives and related memory keeping institutions such as museums, libraries, and archaeological repositories have a collective mandate to document and preserve cultural heritage objects such as oral histories, textual records, artifacts, images, and textiles. In recent years, cultural heritage institutions responsible for collecting and preserving evidence of a shared past are confronting, re-examining, and in many cases making efforts to repair harmful, exploitative, or exclusive policies, practices, and norms. These include disrupting the widespread tendency for privileging, preserving, and reproducing a history that is predominantly white and further silencing the voices and histories of marginalized peoples and communities. 

The “Archives in the Atlantic” Conference will explore the ways archives and related cultural heritage institutions throughout the Atlantic World are confronting shared legacies of imperialism, slavery, and Indigenous dispossession through decolonizing traditional standards, developing liberatory practices, and expanding networks of belonging and representation. 

How can archival and curatorial institutions and the people who use them employ ethics of care when working with or studying communities affected by historical injustice, plunder of material culture, or erasure from the historic record? How can archivists, curators, and memory workers create more inclusive and representative holdings and build trust with members of historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities and groups? How has the landscape of repatriation transformed and how have these processes evolved in the tension between institutions, those who work within them, and stakeholder communities? Within the confines of those institutions, how do we confront and correct the curatorial decisions of past stewards of collections who perpetuated historical violences via their practice?

Other Potential Topics Include:

  • Reparative and Inclusive Description and/or Metadata Remediation
  • Ethical Collecting
  • Repatriating Collections 
  • Working with Indigenous Communities
  • Historic Preservation-National Trust-Saving Places
  • Working with Descendant Communities 
  • Black Memory Workers
  • Community Archiving 
  • Digital Archives and Digital Exhibits
  • HBCUs and Tribal Archives and Libraries 
  • Interpretation 
  • Developing Authentic Partnerships 
  • Cultural Humility in Archives and Museum Settings 

To submit a proposal and learn more, visit https://claw.cofc.edu/conferences/2024-conference-archives-in-the-atlantic/.


Port Cities in the Atlantic World Conference Cancelled

Dear scholars and friends, 

Thank you for your interest in the 2020 Port Cities in the Atlantic Conference May 14-16, 2020 sponsored and organized by the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program here at the College of Charleston.  We had a wonderful schedule prepared and were very excited to hear more about your research. Unfortunately, given the global pandemic of COVID-19 and the various restrictions imposed by the College of Charleston, the state of South Carolina, and the nation, the conference has had to be cancelled.  This decision was not made lightly. As disappointing as the cancellation may be, health is of the utmost concern. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and are happy to answer any questions that you may have.  Our hope is that you’ll continue to support the mission and programming of CLAW and keep an eye out for future opportunities to visit us here in Charleston.  Next Spring CLAW is partnering with the French Colonial Historical Society for a conference in Charleston. 

All of us at the College of Charleston send our sincerest wishes for your continued health and well-being. We are grateful to have connected with you and your research.  Thank you. 

Warmest wishes,

Dr. Sandra Slater 
Director, Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program 
Associate Professor of History 

Series: “When the War Is Over: Memory, Division, and Healing”

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
-William Blake, “A Poison Tree”

“When the War is Over”: A series of public events dedicated to thinking about building Community After Periods of Slavery, Persecution, Genocide, or War.

In much the same way that trauma in an individual’s past causes psychological damage, communities that have experienced traumatic violence also bear psychological scars from that experience. Psychiatrists have for many years asserted the value of the “talking cure,” arguing that healing comes from addressing, not suppressing, the memory of the traumatic event. In the US military, for example, treatment of PTSD is generally informed by the work of psychiatrist Judith Herman, author of the now-classic 1992 study Trauma and Recovery. In the cases of traumatized communities, the tendency in recent years has also been to attempt “talking cures”; numerous countries have opted to establish truth commissions as a way to stabilize post-conflict situations. Hoping to avoid the potentially endless cycle of tit-for-tat vengeful “justice,” countries as diverse as Chile, Sierra Leone, and South Africa have used truth commissions to deal with their violent pasts not by repressing memories but by bringing them into the open.

Despite the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, the scars of slavery and of institutionalized racism in the United States are still present, manifesting themselves in a variety of ways, including continued systemic discrimination as well as individual acts of violence. In the latter case, the mass murder of nine of our fellow citizens while at prayer in the Mother Emanuel Church in June 2015 reminded us all that Charleston, our beautiful home city, is also a site of trauma, suffering from the suppressed memories of native genocide, two centuries of racialized slavery, and a century of legalized racial discrimination. Although contemporary historians have put the story of these traumas into print, the visible, material landscape still suppresses the trauma: public memorials and the demographics of urban space still render Native American and African American experience virtually invisible.

Elsewhere in the world, communities that have experienced similar trauma and racial, ethnic, or sectarian division have begun to address the effect of statues, monuments, and memorials honoring eminent historical figures whose ideologies and policies are out of step with contemporary assertions of universal human rights. In perpetuating a positive memory of leaders like Cecil Rhodes, for example, these memorials enshrine and set in stone attitudes we now consider to be anathema. Campaigns to remove statues honoring Rhodes from places of honor in South Africa and in his native England have led to wider campaigns for social justice, including equal access to education for all.

In the US, the last year has seen a wave of local initiatives to remove or modify statues and memorials honoring Civil War generals and politicians, as well as efforts to rename buildings named in honor of post-War politicians who advocated for and/or profited from racial segregation. These initiatives have in turn spawned renewed violence, notably in Charlottesville, Virginia last August. Here in Charleston, confusion still reigns over how to handle the memory of John C. Calhoun, whose statue towers above the city in Marion Square.

As an academic institution, dedicated to the notion that wisdom itself is liberty, we at the College of Charleston feel called upon to use our expertise in the humanities and social sciences to provide an intellectual framework to negotiate these contentious issues. “When the War Is Over:  Memory, Division, and Healing” thus brings together in a loosely unified series, a collection of public lectures and forums that address historical trauma and the ways in which sites that have experienced such trauma have moved, or might move towards building sustainable, peaceful community. In broadening the discussion from Charleston and the US to include the Northern Irish “Troubles” and the Holocaust, the series aims to provide a discursive context within which a fundamental commitment to human rights governs policy decisions that lead toward peaceable coexistence, the eradication of racism and other forms of discrimination, and the prevention of genocide.

We warmly invite the public to attend these events as we strive to move toward a better, more inclusive understanding of our common but divided history. A full list of the events will be available at https://live-carolina-lowcountry-and-atlantic-world-program.pantheonsite.io/events/

Hand painted copy B of William Blake’s “A Poison Tree”, 1794 currently held at the British Museum.





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.

Keynote speakers will include Bernie Powers (author of Black Charlestonians) and Michael Moore (executive director of the International African American Museum). Other featured participants include Manisha Sinha, Douglas Egerton, Samuel Ntewusu, and Rebecca Shumway.

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.

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 February 28, 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.

Contact Info:
James O’Neil Spady, Assoc. Prof. of American History, Soka University of America

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

Steve Mentz Reflects on CLAW 2016 Conference

Dr. Steve Mentz, Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York City and author of Shipwreck Modernity (2015), was one of the many distinguished attendants of the recent intimate CLAW Conference held at the College of Charleston. He recorded his experience of the conference in an engaging post to his personal website. To read Dr. Mentz’s reflections on the conference, his time in the Lowcountry, and of course marronage, maroonage, and maroons, please click here.

Continue reading Steve Mentz Reflects on CLAW 2016 Conference

SAWH Triennial Conference at the College of Charleston, June 11-14, 2015

From Thursday, June 11th to Sunday, June 14th, 2015, the College of Charleston will host the Southern Association of Women Historians’ (SAWH) Tenth Southern Conference on Women’s History. This year’s theme is “Re-membering/Gendering: Women, Historical Tourism, and Public History.” The conference is co-sponsored by Clemson University, The Citadel: Military College of South Carolina, and the College of Charleston.

This four-day conference will bring scholars from across the US South and the nation to Charleston to present on a wide range of topics.
Continue reading SAWH Triennial Conference at the College of Charleston, June 11-14, 2015

CFP: “Soundscapes: Music from the African Atlantic, 1600-present,” March 7-9, 2014

The Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina invites paper proposals addressing the transnational and transcultural impacts of music throughout the Atlantic World for a conference to be held March 7-9, 2014.  We are especially interested in twentieth and twenty-first century music and cultural exchange, but the conference is open to any work that examines the movement of music in the Atlantic World from the 1600s to the present. We welcome a broad range of submissions, but especially encourage submissions that utilize an interdisciplinary approach.  Proposals may address any area of music in the Atlantic World. We invite scholars to submit proposals for individual papers and panels that address such questions as:

  • Tradition and modernity in popular and indigenous music in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa
  • Music, Race, and Empire
  • Jazz in a global context
  • Trans-Caribbean identities in Salsa, Reggae, and Calypso music
  • Pan-African Rhythms
  • Caribbean beats and protest music in the 1970s
  • The British Invasion and Rhythm and Blues in the United Kingdom
  • Hip Hop and political activism in Africa and the Caribbean
  • Race and Beach Music on the American Atlantic Coast
  • Musical culture and diaspora studies

Proposals Due:  Friday, December 6, 2013

All Presenters will be notified if their paper or panel has been accepted by December 22, 2013.  Presenters and participants are expected to register for the conference by February 7th, 2014.  Registration will open in October 2013.

As with previous successful CLAW program events the conference will be run in a seminar style: accepted participants will be expected to send completed papers to the organizers in advance of the conference itself (by February 28th, 2014) for circulation via password-protected site. At the conference itself presenters will talk for no more than ten minutes about their paper, working on the assumption that everyone has read the paper itself. This arrangement means that papers may be considerably lengthier and more carefully argued than the typical 20-minute presentation; and it leads to more substantive, better-informed discussion. It also generally allows us to move quite smoothly toward publication of a selection of essays with the University of South Carolina Press.

Proposals for individual papers should be 200 words, and should be accompanied by a brief one-page biographical statement indicating institutional affiliation, research interests, and relevant publishing record for each participant, including chairs and commentators. Please place the panel proposal, and its accompanying paper proposals and vitas in one file. Please submit your proposal electronically with CLAW conference in the subject line to the conference chair, Dr. John White at WhiteJ@cofc.edu by December 6, 2013.

If you wish to send a proposal for a 3 or 4 person panel, please send a 300 to 500 word proposal describing the panel as a whole as well as proposals for each of the individual papers, along with biographical statements for each of the presenters. The organizers reserve the right to accept individual papers from panel proposals, to break up panels, and to add papers to panels. Notification of acceptance will be sent by December 22nd, 2013.

CFP for The Global South Atlantic

CFP for The Global South Atlantic

Kerry Bystrom, Bard College and ECLA of Bard (k.bystrom@eclaM.de)
Joseph R. Slaughter, Columbia University (jrs272@columbia.edu)


Atlantic Studies, as a field of historical, literary, visual, economic, political and cultural analysis, has tended to focus on exchanges across the North Atlantic Ocean. Transformative studies like Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic (1992) opened the field to the South by demonstrating the centrality of the slave trade and the African diaspora to any understanding of the “Atlantic World.” Yet, even that South was largely situated in the North, around systems of circulation and exchange among Africa, North America, the Caribbean and Europe. Despite the rise in oceanic, hemispheric, and regional studies in the past decade, and despite the institutional transformations of Transatlantic, Black Atlantic and Diaspora studies, the South Atlantic has not emerged as a particularly potent conceptual or analytical configuration in cultural studies; nor has it emerged as a particularly coherent social and economic image-space in geopolitics.

In this volume of collected papers, we will explore different ways of positioning Atlantic Studies in relation to the Global South, and also reflect on the conditions of possibility and impossibility for the coming into being of spaces like the Global South Atlantic. We will focus on critically exploring how artists and intellectuals from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and other Southern zones imagine the Atlantic. Of special concern is the way individuals, governments or political movements, social imaginaries, texts or other cultural artifacts, and markets do (or do not) cross the oceanic space between Africa, Latin America, and surrounding “Southern” regions; and the larger structures of knowledge and power that enable or inhibit these flows.

We invite papers that respond directly to the problem of the Global South Atlantic by focusing specifically on events, periods, and issues that establish and reconfigure relations among peoples around the South Atlantic: charter-company colonialism; the transatlantic slave trade and abolitionism; anti-colonialism and decolonization; tricontinentalism and the non-aligned movement; Cold War dictatorships, resource extraction, and human rights internationalism; indigenous movements and dirty wars; diasporas and exiled intellectuals; transitional justice and truth commissions; regional economic and security communities. In addition, we’re interested in theoretical and historical perspectives on the (South) Atlantic from the Global South. Specific questions of interest include:

• What and where is the (Global) South Atlantic? How is it possible to map it? To position ourselves in relation to it?

• In what ways have people from the “Global South” imagined and participated in creating something called “the Atlantic” or “the Atlantic world,” from the early modern period to the present? In what ways have they been excluded from this project?

• How might thinking about the South Atlantic, understood as that expanse between Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, or understood otherwise, alter current histories and theories of the Atlantic world?

• In what ways has the South Atlantic become an actually existing zone of commercial, military, scientific, intellectual, artistic or cultural navigation and exchange? What did these exchanges look like during 18th, 19th and 20th century colonialism and anti-colonialism? During the Cold War? What do they look like in our contemporary moment of neo-liberal capitalism and globalization?

• What role have discourses like those of environmental activism, human rights and humanitarianism, or national security doctrine and other forms of militarism (think of the North (and failed South) Atlantic Treaty Organization), played in shaping relations across the Atlantic?

• What kinds of “alternative solidarities” (Popescu, Tolliver and Tolliver)–those beyond ties created through the experience of slavery–have been formed across the Atlantic ocean between North and South or South and South? How are previous forms of transnational solidarity remembered or, conversely, to what ends are they forgotten?

• How does the question of the (Global) South Atlantic impact studies of slavery and the African diaspora it created?

• How might looking at something called the “South Atlantic” help us to understand the discursive formations of Oceanisms, regionalisms, area studies, hemispheric studies, postcolonialisms, and comparative literature?

One goal of the collection is to bring together scholars working in Anglophone, Francophone, Hispanic, and Lusophone literary and cultural studies, as well as researchers working in other languages–such as Arabic or indigenous languages–that are related to the (global) South Atlantic. We aim to balance contributions from these multiple linguistic areas.

Abstracts of 300 words and a short bio should be sent to both editors by September 30, 2013. Accepted authors will be notified by late October, and full drafts of accepted papers will be due by March 1, 2014. The editors plan to approach presses once the initial selection of papers has been completed.

Introductory Remarks from March 21st Ceremony at Brittlebank Ceremony to Honor the Middle Passage and struggles of African descendants

For those who were not able to able to attend, please see the following introductory comments presented by Drs. Simon Lewis and Anthonia Kalu at the opening of the Commemorative Ceremony held at Brittlebank Park in Charleston, SC on March 20, 2013, to honor the victims of the Middle Passage and the struggles of African descendants throughout the world.

Introduction at Brittlebank Ceremony,

ALA Charleston –March 21, 2013

Thank you, Helen and Ann for those moving introductions to today’s ceremony honoring the dead of the Middle Passage and the under-acknowledged contributions of generations of Africans and African-descended peoples in the Americas. On behalf of the ALA, the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services at the College of Charleston, and the Jubilee Project, thank you all for joining us on this historic occasion, and,  “Welcome all of you!” on this beautiful and peaceful evening in this beautiful place. This visit to Charleston’s Brittlebank Park resonates with a similar visit the ALA made when our annual conference took place in Dakar, Senegal in March 1989. On that occasion we made a pilgrimage to Goree, the most westerly point of the continent infamous for being the site of the “Door of No Return” from which untold thousands were crowded onto European slave-trading vessels and transported to the New World. That profoundly moving pilgrimage prompted one of our members, the poet Niyi Osundare to write the poem, “Goree” that will be the first of our readings this evening.  Our presence in this space twenty-four years later draws attention to the fact that for all its current beauty, this too is a place of memory, and a site of trauma.

Historians estimate that 40% of all Africans kidnapped and landed as slaves in continental North America, landed in this very city of Charleston, and just a mile or so upriver from here at Ashley Ferry River was one of the many sites around the city where men, women and children were sold directly from the boat. Although historic sites in this area and around the nation have expanded and enhanced their presentation of previously invisible histories of the African-American experience, there is still a considerable “acknowledgment gap” in the general public understanding that fails to give due consideration to African contributions to the physical and economic landscape of the new worlds they helped to build.  This acknowledgment gap, which as we shall hear later was so poetically and powerfully described more than a century ago by W.E.B. Du Bois, shows itself ironically in absences: of public memorials, of statuary, of street- and place-names honoring Africans or African Americans; in the absence even, as Toni Morrison has remarked, of such a humble thing as a bench by the road. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation of 150 years ago and the desegregation of public education here in SC that the Jubilee Project is commemorating, the consequences of two centuries of slavery followed by another hundred years of officially-sanctioned segregation are still with us. We believe that humanities scholars have a vital role in laying this history to rest. We believe that humanities scholars should lay this history to rest, not because it should be forgotten, but in order to relate to it in a fuller knowledge both of its historical facts and its contemporary implications. It goes without saying that such a commemoration is extremely uncomfortable and fraught with potential for misunderstanding and pain. That is one of the reasons why the Jubilee Project and this conference are seizing on the anniversaries of emancipation and desegregation as a catalyst for a critical commemorative process: these anniversaries enable us to confront squarely the history of slavery, resistance and abolition as part of the literature of liberation and the law in the story of America and the world. The commemoration of the expansion of freedom is the keynote of that narrative, and of the foundational place of Africans and African-descended people in that narrative.

Peter Wood uses the image of the hour-glass to describe Charleston’s role in the African Diaspora.  In thinking of Charleston as the birthplace of African America, one may think of the narrow harbor entrance in terms of another, more graphic, more somatic image — as the birth canal of African America.  In tonight’s commemorative ceremony, we remember not only the acute pain of that birth but we also salute African America’s contributions to local, regional, national, and international history, and the courage of all our ancestors who, in the words of Kwame Dawes’s poem, “straightened their backs” and “shouldered their burden” in the long, uneven, and often dangerous struggle for freedom.

Anthonia Kalu and Simon Lewis

African Literature Association- Charleston

March 2013