11.10 Keynote presentation: Professor Marisa Solomon
Toxicity is an ongoing consequence of chattel slavery, indigenous removal and the lines of violence the plantation drew in the soil. Across southern towns, like those that make up Cancer Alley, the economic interests of what Clyde Woods called “the plantation bloc” foreclose the conditions in which the subjugated are supposed to live (or die). Yet, even as toxicity sediments into the landscaped, embodied and spatial wounds cleaved by regimes of violence, it simultaneously produces a colonial archive. The afterlife of the plantation links scales of injury from the body, to the town to the region and beyond. Thus, how does one attune oneself to history's haunting of all Black towns, particularly in the South, when there is no “evidence” of injury? This talk focuses on Suffolk, Virginia, a small Black post-industrial southern town whose soil is seething with toxicity. By turning our attention to the exhausted soils of the post-plantation South, I ask where and how histories of violence are made material.