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Making Gullah

A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race, and the American Imagination

Melissa L. Cooper

ca. 20,99
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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Pädagogik


During the 1920s and 1930s, anthropologists and folklorists became obsessed with uncovering connections between African Americans and their African roots. At the same time, popular print media and artistic productions tapped the new appeal of black folk life, highlighting African-styled voodoo as an essential element of black folk culture. A number of researchers converged on one site in particular, Sapelo Island, Georgia, to seek support for their theories about "African survivals," bringing with them a curious mix of both influences. The legacy of that body of research is the area's contemporary identification as a Gullah community.

This wide-ranging history upends a long tradition of scrutinizing the Low Country blacks of Sapelo Island by refocusing the observational lens on those who studied them. Cooper uses a wide variety of sources to unmask the connections between the rise of the social sciences, the voodoo craze during the interwar years, the black studies movement, and black land loss and land struggles in coastal black communities in the Low Country. What emerges is a fascinating examination of Gullah people's heritage, and how it was reimagined and transformed to serve vastly divergent ends over the decades.

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Melissa L. Cooper



black history, low country history, Daughters of the Dust, African Diaspora History, African retentions, Bilali Mohammed, Modernism, Sea Islanders, black folklore, Melissa L. Cooper, Gullah dialect, American Modernism, Muslim slaves, Drums and Shadows, slave songs, Zora Neale Hurston, Lydia Parrish, Robert Park, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, Franz Boas, Howard Coffin, Georgia history, Federal Writers' Project, National Geographic Magazine in Coastal Georgia, E. Franklin Frazier, Sapelo Island, New Negro, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, Harlem Renaissance, Melville Herskovits, Primitivism, sea islands, Julia Peterkin, heirs' property, low country, folklore, ring shout, Golden Isle of Guale, Sterling Brown, Primitivists, black land loss, Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands, Paule Marshall, Southern Studies, Gullah islands, Hog Hammock, voodoo, Cultural Day, New Negro intelligentsia, African survivals, Mary Granger, McIntosh County, Georgia, Coastal Georgia, African cultural survivals, Georgia Writers' Project, Harlem's Black Magic, American Modernists, Black Studies Movement, Cornelia Bailey, Gullah, Lorenzo Dow Turners, Geechee, Sapelo, R.J. Reynolds