Special Presentation by Dr. Perry Carter: Seeking those who are Absent yet ever Present -- Representations of the Enslaved at Ghanaian and Louisianan Tourist Sites

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Specialty Group, Black Geographies Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Galerie 1, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Alan Lew, Dallen Timothy
Chairs: Dallen Timothy


Sponsored by "Tourism Geographies" (journal) and the "Journal of Heritage Tourism" (Routledge/Taylor & Francis)

Black geographies are often hidden geographies. They frequently act as the occluded foundations upon which triumphant colonial narratives are written and told and retold. This is particularly so with the geographies of the enslaved and of enslavement. As economic historians such as Sven Beckert (2015), Edward Baptist (2016), Walter Johnson (2017), and Nicholas Draper (2013) have shown, enslaved Africans and the descendants of enslave Africans are the backs upon which modern Western capitalism was brought into the world.
Despite their importance to our modern narrative, the stories of the enslaved until recently have rarely been told, particularly at tourist sites. This is in part because very little of their material culture remains. This project examines how three tourist sites, Ghana’s two UNESCO heritage sites Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle, and the Whitney Plantation museum in Louisiana, use reclaimed material objects, and in the case of Whitney newly created material objects, onto which to plot their narratives of the enslaved.
These memory objects range from the dungeons below the slave castles to pink and blue benches for slave ghost children to rivers of no return to a wall full of Post-it notes. Materiality matters. Things matter.
The materiality of things/objects, their visibility and tangibility, make them powerful non-human agents in an affective assemblage that often touches those who enter their grounds. Whitney’s material spaces attempt to re-embody those who in most other plantation museums exist as specters in spaces they once inhabited, while Ghanaian spaces and landscapes are emotionally overwhelming in their excessive materiality — their overpowering embedded affects. This project’s primary concern is with objects, affect, place and re-memory (Divya Tolia-Kelly, 2004).


Baptist, E. (2014) The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic Books.

Beckert, S. (2014) Empire of Cotton: A New History of Global Capitalism. New York: Knopf.

Draper, N. (2010) The Price of Emancipation: Slave-ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery, Cambridge.

Johnson, W. (2013) River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Tolia-Kelly, D. (2004), Locating processes of identification: studying the precipitates of re-memory through artefacts in the British Asian home. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 29: 314–329.


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Alan Lew Northern Arizona University 5
Panelist Perry Carter Texas Tech University 60
Discussant Dallen Timothy Arizona State University 15

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