Interrogating Notions of Freedom and Enslavement Through the Representation of Anna Kingsley at Kingsley Plantation
Author(s): Ayana Flewellen
In Scenes of Subjection Saidiya Hartman examines ‘forms of violence and domination enabled by the recognition of humanity’(p.6). The central theme of the text is how ‘emancipation appears less the grand event of liberation than a point of transition between modes of servitude and racial subjection’(p. 6). In this paper, I pull from Hartman’s theory of emancipation and subjugation to analyze the text and pictures on display boards that disseminate knowledge about Anna Kingsley’s life at the National Park Service site Kingsley Plantation. The story surrounding Anna Kingsley, the African enslaved woman who became a land owner, slaveholder and wife of white plantation owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, is a narrative that highlights the complex and ambiguous nature of freedom and enslavement and how those categories are used to shape the experiences of black people during the antebellum era at heritage sites. I call into question the language used to outline Anna’s life and her transition from enslavement to free person of color; in order to interrogate whether the language used at the NPS site adequately explains Anna’s racial subjugation.
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Interrogating Notions of Freedom and Enslavement Through the Representation of Anna Kingsley at Kingsley Plantation. Ayana Flewellen. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437068)