Students on Plantation Tour

2010 students at the Avery Research Center, Charleston, SC.
Photo by Claudia Engel.

The Sea Island Field School is offered through the Stanford University Anthropology Department. The field school is based in Charleston, South Carolina in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture, which forms part of the College of Charleston. A selected group of three students work as part of a research team and engage in anthropological research. They analyze archival material, collect geographical and spatial data, and conduct interviews in order to explore a new dimension of Sea Island regionality. Students draw on environmental history, science studies, gender studies, material culture, oral histories, and cultural geography as a way of understanding the intersections between culture, history, and space.

The four-week long field school is designed as an introduction to various interconnected aspects of South Carolina's history and culture. We offer an introduction to a range of methodological tools that will be useful to our research in the Sea Islands. Students learn about how to do library research, explore issues in spatial analysis and learn how to read demographic evidence, discover the unique linguistic features of the make Gullah language distinctive and consider the ethical issues involved in doing social science research.

Students are introduced to the region through several tours, including plantations and islands. They work in the archives of the Avery Research Center, the South Carolina Historical Society, the Charleston Public Library, the Charleston Museum, and others. Students have an opportunity to engage in conversations with local experts on history, botany, archaelogy, gullah culture, and preservation. Visits to plantations and islands provide insight into cultural memory of the region. Student projects are thematically associated with Ebron's research on the Sea Islands: landscape, memory, and uplift. Their activities range from mapping a plantation site, a preliminary assessment of archaeological material to tracing the history of plants and crops and the development of citizenship schools and their role in early civil rights efforts.

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