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Products for grant FZ-256478-17

FZ-256478-17
The Story of "Ashley's Sack": A Family Heirloom in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture
Tiya Miles, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FZ-256478-17

"This Sack": Reconstructing Enslaved Women's Lives Through Objects, Gregory Lecture, University of Georgia (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: "This Sack": Reconstructing Enslaved Women's Lives Through Objects, Gregory Lecture, University of Georgia
Abstract: When the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in the fall of 2016, it contained among its trove of displayed artifacts an object called Ashley’s Sack (on loan from the Middleton Place Foundation of Charleston). Attributed to this object -- a plain cotton seed bag -- is a mysterious and dramatic history. The sack was bestowed as a gift by an enslaved black mother to her enslaved black daughter at the time of their separation through sale in antebellum South Carolina. Embroidered with the narrative of this event by a descendant who inherited the item, the bag now functions as a record of slavery and story of family survival. Ashley’s Sack is at once a material object, archival source, and narrative text that sheds new light on black women’s creativity, practicality, and perseverance. In addition, the object's use and transferal across time and place inspires reflection on the themes of slavery, love, loss, memory, testimony, and historical methods. This lecture will focus on the recovered seed sack and its meanings, with a focus on how we can employ the materiality of objects to access the interiority of enslaved women's lives.
Author: Tiya Miles
Date: 10/25/2019
Location: Seney-Stovall Chapel, Athens, GA

The Materiality of Slavery: What Is Passed On, Opening Panel, Columbia University 1619 & Its Legacies Symposium (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Materiality of Slavery: What Is Passed On, Opening Panel, Columbia University 1619 & Its Legacies Symposium
Author: Tiya Miles
Abstract: My talk for this panel presented Ashley's Sack in relation to a question posed by Toni Morrison's narrator in Beloved: what is and what is not to be "passed on" by African Americans who experienced slavery and their descendants?
Date: 09/26/2019

Textile as Text: New Ways of Reading the History of Black Women in Slavery, Presidential Plenary Panel, at the MLA Conference (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Textile as Text: New Ways of Reading the History of Black Women in Slavery, Presidential Plenary Panel, at the MLA Conference
Author: Tiya Miles
Abstract: When the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened in the fall of 2016, it contained among its trove of artifacts an object called Ashley’s Sack. This singular item of African American material culture is displayed in the Slavery and Freedom gallery of the museum. My comments for the plenary session of MLA’s Textual Transactions themed conference will focus on this seed sack and its stories. In my preliminary and exploratory interpretation of this rare and beautiful thing, I will address how we have characterized the experiences of enslaved black women through a reliance on slave narratives as our principle texts and raise questions about how our understanding might change and expand if we looked for and spent time with different kinds of textual testimony. My talk will explore what counts as text, how we might read the stories of enigmatic textual things, and how certain things – particularly textiles – are tactile carriers that prompt extraordinary transactions of emotion, meaning and memory.
Date: 01/02/2019


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