Ayluonne 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 Southeastern, North Carolina"

In the American Southeast, how might an EPA Superfund remediation complicate how “pre-harm” and “post-harm” are defined and how environmental futures are imagined? My dissertation directs this inquiry toward the remediation of a historically Gullah Geechee town in Southeastern, North Carolina—the former site of rice plantations and subsequently a toxic creosote plant. My research investigates complex and localized iterations of harm and repair through exploring the conceptual, material, and embodied relationship(s) between Superfund remediation and historical restoration processes, which unfold concurrently in this Town. This project joins participatory observation, oral testimonies, forensic archival research, and apprenticeships in remediation and historical restoration.

I develop 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 lives, and also critique teleological framings of harm and repair as a binary. Ultimately, this research offers an anthropological framework for analyzing how the ethos of environmental remediation—which is future-oriented and builds from sanitized abstractions of past and present material worlds—generates distinct approaches to historicity in Southeastern, North Carolina, and how Gullah communities might counter-orient this ethos through engaging in historical restoration, as Black heritage-keepers.