Excerpt- Courage to Move Through by Christy Hyman

On maronnage in the Great Dismal Swamp the existing scholarship on enslaved people within the Great Dismal Swamp is scattered across the disciplines of anthropology, cultural studies, and history. Hugo Prosper Leaming’s Hidden Americans: Maroons of Virginia and North Carolina was published in 1995 and brought attention to Great Dismal Swamp maroons using cultural and oral traditions to examine the presence of maroon communities. Anthropologist Daniel O. Sayers conducted the Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study from 2003 to 2013 and published A Desolate Place for a Defiant People in 2014 using his findings from the study to identify possible sites of maronnage within the Great Dismal Swamp landscape. Sayers’ work is essential to understanding the locations of “diasporic exiles” that some enslaved people managed to find and sustain a life. David O. Cecelski’s The Watermen’s Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina is a comprehensive study of maritime functions in the antebellum south. Cecelski focuses on what he refers to as African American Maritime Culture along the shoreline of North Carolina and discusses the traditions created by prominent African American seamen. Charles Royster’s “The Fabulous History of the Great Dismal Swamp” is a study that centers the motivations of eighteenth century colonial elites trying to maximize gains through resource extraction of the Great Dismal Swamp. Royster’s work focuses on wealthy planters, thus African Americans appear more as objects than agents in the text. Calvin Schermerhorn centers enslaved people’s efforts within the upper south to hold onto familial connections while confronting the harsh realities of the slave market. Schermerhorn’s work “Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom” contributes significantly to studies of slavery by showing enslaved people’s aims of choosing family bonds in spite of the slave markets’ limitation over enslaved people’s attempts at freedom. Slavery’s Exiles:The Story of American Maroons, by Sylviane Diouf offers a chapter on the Great Dismal Swamp that highlights the legal codes circumscribing enslaved people’s lives as well as an important overall framework for studying maronnage by distinguishing between borderland and hinterland flight surveying the incidences of maronnage across America.

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