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The Landscapes of Enslavement

Image: Hallowed Grounds by Hilary N. Green

In 2019, Jared Green, editor of ASLA’s The Dirt, covered The Landscapes of Slavery, a colloquium held in Washington, D.C. that introduced the spring 2020 symposium on the legacy of segregation on cities. The discussion delved into studies and projects related to landscapes of enslavement in the U.S. and Caribbean. The academic conferences are part of a broader three-year investigation financed with grants from the Mellon Foundation.

Just a few decades ago, the story of African American slaves would have been brushed over, sanitized, or, even worse, left blank. Now, a few brave public educators, academics, photographers, and historians are shaping new, complicated, and layered stories that honor the truth and dignity of those who were enslaved. They show that landscapes can tell the story of American history in all its beauty and horror.
Thaisa Way, FASLA, the director of garden and landscape studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. assembled a group who are at the cutting edge of reinterpreting landscapes of enslavement. Over the course of a day, African American, Latinx, and Caucasian scholars, landscape architects, and curators waded into some of the toughest conversations. The conclusion was that a new inclusive approach to educating the public is being forged, even while the reality of American slavery remains hard to hear for those brought up on Gone with the Wind. 

We invite you to learn about the full symposium with The Landscapes of Enslavement (Part 1) and The Landscapes of Enslavement (Part 2).

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