Brian Walter

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Cruz, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9966

Approve Date

October 30, 2019

Project Title

Walter, Brian (California, Santa Cruz, U. of) "Sedimented Futures: heritage and the racial politics of flood infrastructure in the South Carolina Lowcountry"

BRIAN WALTER, then a graduate student at University of California, Santa Cruz, California, received a grant in October 2019 to aid research on ‘Sedimented Futures: Heritage and the Racial Politics of Flood Infrastructure in the South Carolina Lowcountry,’ supervised by Dr. Melissa Caldwell. With a 50% increase in annual flooding and a major hurricane every year for the past five years, an environmental crisis is building in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2018, the city government named flooding ‘the Number-One priority’ and began actions to preserve the city’s famous tourism-generating antebellum heritage sites, while African American neighborhoods and settlement communities received little relief from their chronic inundation. Though city officials claim that ‘water knows no boundaries,’ this project follows floodwater and the communities it impacts to understand the ways inequity is channeled, routed, and racialized, through infrastructure and mitigation projects. This research utilizes historical research, interviews, participant observation, collaborations with local organizations, public discourse analysis, and engagement with the landscape to describe the divergent ways that flooding is produced and experienced in ‘The City Where History Lives.’ The findings illustrate Charleston’s hydrology as ethnographic terrain, characterized by uneven political, historical, and technical entanglements with a changing environment, contributing a situated investigation of racism as a historical and ecological landscape assemblage.