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Going to FRANCE!

From June 18 to July 5, I will be taking a hiatus from this project and work to travel to France with my parents.  The trip is half vacation and half work, we are going to make a documentary.  Yeah, I know, the idea of it still seems bizarre to me.  But if you know my father, then it is not so far-fetched.  His ancestors came from France and Lebanon, hence my Arab eyebrows and French surname.   It is the French side of our family that is the topic of the documentary. 

My father wants to interview our French relatives on immigration with a “what if” clause.  What if my great x 5 grandfather had not come to the United States?  Are there any Roueches living with similar traits, mannerisms, or likes/dislikes to me or my father?  

All the details can be found at RouecheDocumentary.com 

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A Bicentenary Inquiry

From Wednesday to Friday, I was able to attend all the daytime panel discussions, but unfortunately none of the evening activities because of my work schedule. The conference extended over a four day period, and everyday the venue changed for significant reasons. On Wednesday the Conference officially opened in Arnold Hall at the Jewish Studies Center with a reading by Lawrence Hill from his novel Someone Knows My Name.  The panel discussions included “Economics, Class, and Gender Issues” and panel 2 was on “Abolition, the law and its Evasion.”  I really enjoyed the passage that Hill read from his book and the discussion that followed.  Hill’s book was initially published in Canada under the title, The Book of Negroes, but when it came time to publish in the United States, the title was rejected because of the word Negro.  This title change is curious due to the connotations of the word negro in the US as opposed to Canada. 

On Thursday at the Avery Research Center, there were four panels; “Gullah and Creolization,” “Abolitionist Discourse,” “Resistance,” and “Slavery, Plantations, and landscape in American Visual Art.” There was also a lunch on the Gullah/Geechee Nation with Queen Quet, of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. I enjoyed everything about her presentation, her presence is commanding and her voice is strong.   She spoke of her battle to gain international recognition for the people of the Gullah/Geechee Nation from the local level, all the way to the United Nations. Her insistance to speak Gullah/Geechee when she addressed the UN when she was advised not to is inspiring.  That, to me, is making history.

At the Citadel on Friday there were again four panel discussions;  “Racism, Racial Science, and the Representation of Race,” “Maroonage, Dispersal, and the Roots of Forced Migration,” “Infrastructure and Ideology,” and the “Experience of Slavery.”  I was encouraged by two of the presenters on Friday’s panel, they were both young recent PhDs, and their research was very interesting, especially the one on “Slave Trading Entrepôts and their Hinterlands: The Continued Forced Migrations after the Middle Passage to North America” by Greg O’Malley. I was able to draw parallels from his work to mine. It is important to note that Haitian history is a history of migrations and movements that extends into modern day.  O’Malley is researching personal accounts about the passage from where the captured Africans entered into the US to their final destination  as slaves.  I see parallels between wondering what happened to those French colonists and Creoles who came to Atlantic port cities of the US and where they ended up.

This conference was important to me because I hope to pursue a Masters in Public History and do exactly this, organize and plan a conference or exhibit for the public.  Attending this conference was an invaluable experience through the discussions with the different presenters, the setting, and the extracurricular events of the conference. What I liked about this particular conference was the fact that the participants were not limited to scholars and academic papers, but the discussions where connected through an interdisciplinary idea that the International Slave Trade exists in history books and academic papers, but also in its descendants and their heritage, and their interpretations through art, literature, music, and especially their identity.

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“Ending the International Slave Trade: A Bicentenary Inquiry”

free

This week at the College of Charleston the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) is hosting a conference marking the bicentennial of the ending of the international slave trade.  The conference begins on Tuesday, March 25 and runs through Saturday, March 29.  The schedule of events include a Requiem on Tuesday evening, daily panel discussions, and presentations at Magnolia Gardens and Middleton Place, among others.  I hope to attend the daytime events including the panel discussions and a lunch on the Gullah/Geechee Nation. 

I am excited to attend this conference for several reasons, mainly because I have not attended many conferences and none of this magnitude.  Also for my internship, Saint-Domingue/Haiti had a major impact on the abolition of the international slave trade because no doubt the successful slave rebellion and first independent black nation struck fear in every colonial power who depended on slave labor in their colonies.  

Old Slave Mart Museum

CLAW

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Field Trip

 I took a field trip to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on Wednesday with my friend Hunter.   He is in town for spring break and we wanted to do something outside and a little educational.  Since I have never really visited any of the tourist attractions around the city, a plantation seemed like a lot of fun.  Hunter and I both grew up in Rock Hill, near where Historic Brattonsville  is located.  As children, we visited this historic site many times, and I think Hunter was even a “costume interpreter” once upon a time.  I remember women churning butter in historic dress, touring the blacksmith’s cabin, watching the sheep sheerer, and walking out onto the battle field of Huck’s Defeat.  Needless to say we were not prepared for the Amusement Park that is the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. 

I enjoyed our visit though because it was so crazy.  There were all sorts of animals running around in a petting zoo, a crowded tour of the big house, a brief, but amusing boat tour, and then acres and acres of camellias.  The camellias, I’m guessing, are the reason tourist flock to this plantation.   The swamp walk is really cool, and we were some of the last tourists of the day and had the entire swamp to ourselves.  I think that the swamp walk is free to the public because the entrance is before the ticket booth, so I recommend taking an afternoon to walk it.  I should have done a little more research  though before we spent our $36 each.

It was a great experience for me.  I live in a city full of history, but
I really don’t take advantage of the attractions.  I am just now learning to appreciate the local history and how the city of Charleston promotes itself.  I guess I’m pretty lucky to have lived once in house that was over 150 years old, even though it lacked all modern amenities. 

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