On 13–15 August 2018, members of the ARIDDSE convening council met at our headquarters in Midway, Georgia to discuss a number of future writing projects. Dr. Modibo Kadalie shared his progress on his forthcoming manuscript, which critically investigates two historical sites of African self-emancipation in North America: Fort Mose in Florida, and the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina. Dr. Kadalie plans to upend the historiography of these two sites by describing them as societies that were organized directly and democratically by masses of freedom-seeking peoples. He also necessarily places these movements into conversation with indigenous histories of the same period and region. The manuscript is currently in progress, with Andrew Zonneveld contributing an introductory essay.
During this retreat, we welcomed visiting researcher Dr. Olga Cielemęcka, who is working with Andrew Zonneveld to investigate the history of how African botanical and mechanical sciences were violently appropriated by slave-owning plantation farmers of Coastal Georgia. White plantation owners exploited African knowledge both for profit and their own prestige in the scientific establishment. Today, the legacies of this appropriation are still felt in the area’s conservation sites, especially the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge, which exists on land that was once home to a thriving and self-sufficient Geechee community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This community was forcibly displaced through Eminent Domain by federal authorities in 1942.
Our researchers visited several sites in Liberty County and McIntosh County. We met and conversed with some descendants of the displaced Harris Neck community, who shared with us the story of the community and the ongoing movement to return to their ancestral land.