Chrislyn Laurie Laurore

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10612

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Laurore, Chrislyn Laurie (Pennsylvania, U. of) ""The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here": Black Indigeneity, Slave Heritage, and the Politics of Return"

In 1822, African American settlers with the Back-to-Africa Movement arrived at Providence Island, setting the stage for the foundation of the modern Liberian nation state in 1847. Providence Island was added to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2017. This project explores how ensuing Back-to-Africa heritage discourses and practices sustain, invent, and reproduce geographic entanglements between Liberia and the United States. My research considers the multiple meanings nested in the site, from “return” to a native homeland to the genesis of a repressive settler colonial regime. I ask: how are notions of Black indigeneity, belonging, placemaking, and sovereignty negotiated through slave heritage preservation initiatives and Back-to-Africa tours? Through participant observation, ethnographic interviews, media content analysis, and oral history, this project traces the assemblage of people (students, descendent communities, heritage professionals, government officials, tourists, entrepreneurs); sites (museums, university classrooms, heritage tours, cultural landscapes, archaeological sites); and scales (genealogy, community history, and national branding campaigns) of heritage production from Providence Island to Monrovia, and further on to Central Virginia. In doing so, I seek to understand the effects these heritage-making processes have on transnational Black indigenous subjectivities, mobilities, and nationalisms.