CONF: Telling the History of Slavery: Scholarship, Museum Interpretation, and the Public at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Fri, February 22, 2013, 9:00 am – Sat, February 23, 2013, 4:00 pm
Reservations: Required

This two-day event will feature panel discussions exploring recent innovations in slavery research and its impact on scholarship and public interpretation.  Bringing together leading experts from across academia, museums, and documentary filmmaking, the conference will include four panels, each with four presenters and a commentator, a plenary address by noted slavery historian Philip Morgan, and demonstrations of new research databases, analysis tools, and examples of digital history projects. The conference will provide opportunities for dialogue among presenters and attendees on the new opportunities and challenges that scholars, curators, educators, family historians, and the general public now face with recent advances in slavery research.

Sessions held at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith Center at Montalto.

Sponsored by Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Foundation with the participation of Morven, University of Virginia.

via Telling the History of Slavery: Scholarship, Museum Interpretation, and the Public « Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Fields-Black on Deep Roots of Rice Cultivation in West Africa and the Diaspora

Fields-Black, Edda L. Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora. Indiana University Press, 2008.

Gilbert, Erik.  “Coastal Rice Farming Systems in Guinea and Sierra Leone, Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora. By Edda L. Fields-Black.”  The Journal of African History 50, no. 03 (2009): 437-438.

From the review by Erik Gilbert:

“The role of African technologies and agricultural knowledge in the development of rice farming in the Americas has drawn considerable scholarly attention in the last decade. That Africans might have contributed not just their labor to the tidal rice-farming systems of the South Carolina Low Country but also essential knowledge of the techniques needed to grow rice in that challenging environment is highly appealing. It gives agency to enslaved Africans and recognizes the sophistication of West African riziculture. The most recent expression of this idea has been Judith Carney’s Black Rice.1 Carney’s work has been challenged by David Eltis, Philip Morgan, and David Richardson, who have argued that the number of slaves coming to South Carolina from rice-growing areas of Africa is too small to explain the development of American rice farming.2

Edda Fields-Black’s new book contributes to this debate primarily by adding to our knowledge of the coastal rice-farming systems of Guinea and Sierra Leone, where rice-farming techniques most closely resemble the tidal irrigation systems of the South Carolina Low Country. In this part of Sierra Leone, farmers clear mangrove swamps and, through careful control of the movement of fresh water through the fields, drain and desalinate the soil. This is a process that can take years and that can be reversed almost instantly if embankments built to keep salt water out are breached. Managing the water supply to these fields requires careful harnessing of tides in the river estuaries so that salt water is kept out but fresh water is allowed in. Early observers of this system assumed that the stateless societies of the coast were unlikely to have created so complex a technology and that it must have been introduced either by Europeans or by Africans from the states of the interior….”

Read the rest at Cambridge Journals ($$)

AHR Exchange: “The Question of ‘Black Rice”

Harper's Monthly Magazine (1859), vol. 19, p. 726; accompanies article by T. Addison Richards, "The Rice Lands of the South" (pp. 721-38). (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library), as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

This month’s American Historical Review features a forum on Judith Carney’s much discussed work Black Rice:  The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (Harvard University Press, 2001).  Scholars S. Max Edelson, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Walter Hawthorne, David Eltis, Philip Morgan and David Richardson weigh in.

AHR Exchange: The Question of “Black Rice”
Beyond “Black Rice”: Reconstructing Material and Cultural Contexts for Early Plantation Agriculture

S. Max Edelson
Africa and Africans in the African Diaspora: The Uses of Relational Databases

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

From “Black Rice” to “Brown”: Rethinking the History of Risiculture in the Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Walter Hawthorne

Black, Brown, or White? Color-Coding American Commercial Rice Cultivation with Slave Labor

David Eltis, Philip Morgan, and David Richardson
Available at University of Chicago Journals ($$)

CONF: TAAHC Fourth Annual New Perspectives on African American History and Culture

John Hope Franklin

The Triangle African American History Colloquium (TAAHC) hosts

The Fourth Annual New Perspectives on African American History and Culture Conference February 26-27, 2010

“The Triangle African American History Colloquium (TAAHC) is a student-based organization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which was founded in January 2005 for the purpose of bringing together students, staff, and faculty who have an interest in African American history and culture. The group emerged from a shared desire to draw attention to research and resources related to black history. Our objectives are fourfold: to link undergraduate and graduate students and faculty across disciplines who share common research interests related to black history and culture; to build reciprocal working networks among students and faculty at UNC and our colleagues on campuses across the Triangle; to raise awareness regarding existing resources on campus and in the larger community related to African American history; and to raise the profile of African American history as a field of study at UNC and other area institutions.

Registration is free and open to the public. Participants will find name tags, programs, and other materials at the registration table on the first floor of Hyde Hall where the majority of the conference events will take place.”

Read rest  here.

Eltis, Morgan and Richardson on the African Contribution to Rice Cultivation in the Americas

David Eltis, Philip D. Morgan, and David Richardson, “Agency and Diaspora in Atlantic History: Reassessing the African Contribution to Rice Cultivation in the Americas,” American Historical Review 112, no. 5 (December 2007): 1329-1358.

First Paragraph Steal:

Broadly speaking, two contrasting models dominate interpretations of Atlantic history. One draws on Old World influences to explain the nature of societies and cultures in the Americas, while the other assigns primacy to the New World environment. One stresses continuities, the other change. The polar extremes are persistence and transience, inheritance and experience. An emphasis on inheritance prioritizes the cultural baggage that migrants brought with them, whereas a focus on experience highlights the physical and social environments, such as climate, natural resources, and settlement processes, that they encountered. In modern parlance, one approach focuses on folkways, the other on factor endowments.

Available (not for free) History Cooperative and at your local college/university library.