For nearly four centuries, Africans developed and shaped the landscape of the Americas, including what is now the United States. The imprint of African cultural lifeways over this period of time has many manifestations, including the cultivation and harvesting of agricultural products, the design and construction of buildings, the platting of communities, the formation of landscapes, the use of natural environments, and the burials of relatives and friends. While many scholars and communities have studied and preserved many of the physical manifestations of African culture, many more potential historic properties await study and recognition. The goal of the Africanisms in America: Places of Cultural Memory is to convene interdisciplinary panels of experts whose presentations will assist in the fuller identification, evaluation, documentation, preservation, and interpretation of buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects.
Africanisms in America: Places of Cultural Memory is the core event of the larger conference, "Africanisms in America: The Shared Heritage of Two Continents," that will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, September 26-30, 2000. Related conference workshops and events will explore the myriad of ways people of African descent have helped shape the Americas, including African influences on aspects of material culture and social history and the impact of African traditions on the arts and humanities. The conference is expected to draw historians, archeologists, sociologists, anthropologists, architects, landscape architects, preservationists, art practitioners and administrators, educators, policy makers, and community leaders, from the public and private sectors. Additional information on the conference is available by calling toll-free 1 (888) 358-8388 or by visiting the website: www.africanismsinamerica.com. Suggestions for related conference workshops and events may be made to the telephone number or on the website.
Presentation proposals are invited to respond to one or more of the major themes described below through submission of a concise 350-400 word abstract. The abstract must be appropriate for a 20- minute presentation and accompanied by the author's name(s), affiliation, summary resume (no more than 2 pages), postal and e-mail addresses, telephone and FAX numbers, and the theme to which the abstract is submitted. Authors of selected papers will receive free conference registration and a $500 honorarium. All submissions must arrive at the National Park Service by Tuesday, November 30, 1999.
Mail submissions to:
Africanisms in America: Places of Cultural Memory
Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service
1849 C Street, N.W., Suite NC 330
Washington, DC 20240.
FAX submissions may be sent to (202) 343-3921; e-mail submissions may be sent to email below. Notification of presentation selections will be mailed by February 29, 2000. Final presentation papers must be received no later than May 31, 2000, in order to be included in the conference compilation of papers. A formal publication of selected conference papers is planned after the conference.
MAJOR THEMES: Africanisms in America: Places of Cultural Memory
1) MEMORIALIZING PLACES OF DIASPORA
For centuries, Africans have been dispersed throughout the world and have established "communities of African descent" outside of Africa. These scattered communities retain their African identities within the culture of the host countries. The Diaspora may involve places of departure, arrival, resistance, liberation, linkages, emigration, migration, escape, and other places where movement of human populations took places. Related historic properties may include slave routes, freedom routes, mutual ports, benefit societies, and churches. This session will identify the locations of historic properties that can educate the public about this important era of history and culture and explore ways in which significant aspects of contributions and retentions stemming from the African Diaspora can be commemorated.
2) BLACK CULTURAL LANDSCAPES AND INSTITUTIONS
Upon arrival to the Americas and what is now the United States, people of African descent molded the land and developed social and religious institutions to feel "at home" in a foreign land. Although many were enslaved well into the nineteenth century, people of African descent still infused their African cultural traditions in domestic spaces, public and secret routes, the education of their young, burial practices, and other aspects of their physical and social environment. Related historic places include, but are not limited to, schools, churches, gardens, cemeteries, settlement patterns, places of spirituality and worship, houses, transportation routes, parade and carnival places, playgrounds, places where music and concerts were played, and places of assembly and social interaction. This session will examine how the landscape and types of social and religious institutions that defined black communities are linked to African cultural traditions.
3) AGRICULTURAL LIFEWAYS AND TECHNOLOGIES
African traditions helped develop agricultural methods that enriched the Americas. These traditions or lifeways shaped the tenor of rural life, particularly in the Southern states of the United States, during the periods of slavery, sharecropping, and black-owned farms. Related historic places may include plantations, farms, gardens, forestry, river communities, and places of invention and irrigation. This session will focus on the ways that Africans implanted their technological "know how" and cultural traditions on the rural landscape and agricultural industry.
4) LEGACIES OF URBAN REALMS AND RURAL COMMUNITIES
As people of African descent arrived in or moved to the nation's burgeoning cities, they established uniquely urban cultures. They brought with them their memories of African urban centers and institutions and traditional methods of social interaction, which served them in establishing new urban communities. In the United States, many black towns were established during Reconstruction, whereby blacks were able to express some of their environmental and commercial values and traditions. Related historic places include, but are not limited to, urban settlements, places where skills and trades were practiced, and transportation routes. This session will underscore the historic and continuing influence of African culture on the urban and rural landscape.
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