Space, water, memory: Slavery and beaufort, South Carolina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article explores the tension between place, space, and memory as they relate to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and are enacted in the arena of tourism. Tourism seeks to produce an appealing, easily narrativized experience that distinguishes one locale from another, thereby attracting tourist dollars, but that project is destabilized when visitors choose to remember outside normative categories. This article scrutinizes three performances on display over the Memorial Day weekend in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 2004: the Gullah Festival's final ceremony of ancestral remembrance, the historical map offered visitors, and the parade and memorial service sponsored by the city on Memorial Day. At issue are questions of the performance of locality or a regional, black diaspora identity (Gullah-Geechee) in problematic relationship to an American identity. The waterside Gullah ceremony locates participants in a particular place while also inviting them to the undefined space connecting the living and the departed; the fixity of the tourist map and historic buildings betray people that society has learned to forget; and local participation in Memorial Day observances manifest ongoing contestations concerning regional and national identity, freedom and democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-282
Number of pages28
JournalCultural Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009


  • Gullah
  • Memory
  • Performance
  • Trans-Atlantic slave trade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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