Dismal Freedom: Self-Emancipation, Marronage, and the Resistance Communities of the Great Dismal Swamp
Scholars have largely ignored North American maroons and maroon communities like that of the Dismal Swamp, yet in doing so they have unwittingly undermined the full telling of the complex human dimension of flight from slavery. For many maroons, the Great Dismal Swamp was their destination, not simply a stopover on a route to freedom elsewhere in a northern state or Canada. Thus these people not only escaped their bonds, but they also often thrived in communities in the very midst of the Tidewater slave society. Their self-determined, autonomous resistance thus complicates our understanding of fugitivity and freedom. Using the example of the maroons and maroon communities of Great Dismal Swamp as a case study and drawing on new archival discoveries and recent archaeological fieldwork, this paper suggests that scholars must expand their focus from the act of escape itself—of focusing on a limited aspect of each self-emancipators life—to a perspective of flight from slavery as a dynamic process.
See more of: AHA Sessions