By responding creatively to the archival challenges presented by the social history of slavery, Harvard Professor Vincent Brown hopes to inspire new conversations about the inheritance of loss and the legacy of struggle.
People often talk about mass incarceration as if it’s just a continuation of American slavery. Historians know that’s not exactly right. Slavery was a legal system that allowed people and their descendants to be owned as chattel property forever.
Letters to Bank of America created by John Hulsey aligns itself with various versions of a people’s history or a history from below—literally by transforming key sites of economic power in the city of Boston into surfaces upon which records of individuals’ daily lives might be temporarily inscribed. Using a high-powered projector mounted on top of a van, the hand-written words of homeowners facing imminent eviction through foreclosure in the Greater Boston Area were projected onto the front facades of those financial institutions threatening them with displacement.
The website, TwoPlantations.com, is the interactive companion to a book written by Dunn called A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, for release on Harvard University Press next month, (4 November 2014). Features on the site include intricate family trees of seven enslaved families, three from Mesopotamia and four from Mount Airy, with mini biographies of each person detailed, information about the 140 people from the families from Mount Airy appearing in the 1870 census taken shortly after the Civil War, and a stunning original hand-drawn family tree of alone lineage, created by Dunn.