Talk on Slavery and Planting Connected to ‘Grass Roots’

Dr. Judith A. Carney, a professor in the Department of Geography at UCLA, will speak Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in Musser auditorium in Pfahler Hall. Her talk is titled “In the Shadow of Slavery: People, Plants and Agro-ecological Practices in the Americas.”

Dr. Carney is the author of two critically acclaimed books:  Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (2001, Harvard University Press) and In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World (2009, University of California Press). Her research examines the ways that the slave trade facilitated the movement of peoples, plants, and farming practices and technologies between African and diverse locations in the Americas. She is also an expert on the role of gender in food production and agricultural systems in West Africa. She will speak about her research on the botanical and agricultural legacy of Africans in the Americas, tracing the ways that the movement of slaves and their practices facilitated the rise of new communities and landscapes.

Her talk is in conjunction with the exhibition at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art,  Grass Roots – African Origins of an American Art, which explores the impact of African coiled basket-making on aspects of economic development in the American South, as well as the present-day environmental and sociological threats to the communities who create this art form.

The exhibition, which was organized by the Museum of African Art in New York City, runs through March 16 in the Museum’s Main Gallery. Grass Roots traces the histories of coiled basketry in Africa and America. Featuring baskets from the low country of South Carolina and Georgia as well as from diverse regions of Africa, the exhibition documents the production of coiled baskets from their use in the domestication of rice in Africa, through the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Carolina rice plantation, and to the present day.

The Berman Museum exhibition has been made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art was organized by the Museum for African Art in New York City in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, SC. It was co-curated by Chief Curator Enid Schildkrout, Museum for African Art, and curator and historian Dale Rosengarten, College of Charleston. The exhibition is toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance through NEH on the Road.