Friday, January 12, 2007

Lecture on the "Ebo Landing" January 19

University of Pittsburgh

Department of Anthropology


Dr. Rachel R. Reynolds

Dept. of Culture and Communication,

Drexel University

"Consecrating Ebo Landing: New Igbo Diasporas and Narratives of the Slave

Friday, January 19, 2007

3:00 p.m.

3106 WWPH

Anthropology Lounge

There are multifarious versions of the story of Ebo Landing, an 1803
incident during which 13 or more enslaved Africans dove into the waters off
of St. Simon's Island in Georgia to drown. Regional archives delineate the
story in terms of incompetent slavers and their loss of property; oral
histories involve received tellings of the legend passed from ancestor to
antecedents on down the line; many local born people tell of contemporary
and historical ghost sightings and other mysterious happenings at the site
of Ebo landing. African-American writers and filmmakers have embraced the
Ebo landing story as an allegorical tale of great beauty.

This paper examines new tellings of Ebo landing, articulated by a growing
diaspora of Igbo speakers within the United States. Since the 1960's, as
many as 20,000 Igbo-Nigerian speakers, the majority of which are
well-educated elites, have settled semi-permanently in the United States.
As this new diaspora reaches a critical mass, new ideological work has been
done to cast and recast stories of Igbo migrations to make sense of
economic migration under conditions of structural adjustment, and to puzzle
out the challenges of settling into America's persistent black-white social
and political binaries. Igbo speakers have increasingly tried to examine
and reify their direct connections to the slave trade and hence to
African-Americans, meanwhile searching for ways to legitimate the long
history of Igbo speakers as global citizens. Such attempts at legitimating
the role of Igbo speakers in the history of globalization occurred in 2003,
when a group of Igbo speakers conducted a ceremony to consecrate the Igbo
dead of the slave trade at Ebo Landing. Evidence for this paper comes from
recently recounted stories of Ebo Landing by Igbo writers, as well as
debates and queries conducted among members of the new Igbo diaspora during
immigrant community meetings in the United States.


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