Ayluonne Txai Txai Tereszkiewicz

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Princeton U.

Grant number

Gr. 10632

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Tereszkiewicz, Ayluonne (Princeton U.) "Remediating the Plantation: Superfund Legacies and Gullah Geechee Heritage in Navassa, North Carolina"

In the American Southeast, how do Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund remediations become flashpoints for complicating the “pre-harm” and “post-harm” imaginations of the region’s clean environmental futures? My dissertation directs this inquiry toward the remediation of the historically Gullah Geechee town of Navassa, North Carolina, the former site of rice plantations and subsequently Kerr-McGee, a creosote plant turned toxic waste site. My research investigates complex and localized iterations of harm and repair by interrogating the conceptual, material, and embodied relationship between the superfund remediation and historical restoration practices underway in Navassa, which are happening concurrently. This project joins participatory observation, oral testimonies, forensic archival research, and two apprenticeships in remediation and historical restoration practices. I will utilize a triangular analytic of people, matter, and the durable spatio-temporalities of toxic legacy and cultural heritage to examine how stakeholders articulate ecological and socio-political harm and repair to Gullah life in Navassa. This research contributes anthropological frameworks for capturing how the ethos of environmental remediation—a fixed orientation toward the future which relies on sanitized abstractions of past and present material worlds—threatens to dislocate Navassa from its historicity, and how the Gullah community counter-orients this ethos by engaging in historical restoration, as ‘Black heritage-keepers.’