With a focus on “Memorializing the Middle Passage on the Atlantic seabed in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction” (published in the journal of Marine Policy in October 2020), episode host, Stephanie Hillsgrove interviews two of the authors from the paper – Dr. Phillip Turner, Duke University Alumni and Dr. Cindy Van Dover, Professor of Biological Oceanography at Duke University.
Phillip J. Turner, ATLAS Project Support Officer at Seascape Consultants Ltd
Phil is an early career researcher with experience in deep-sea mining, deep-sea ecosystem services and ocean governance. Phil graduated from Duke University in 2019 with a PhD in Marine Science and Conservation. His PhD research explored i) the ecology of methane seeps on the US Atlantic margin and interactions with the deep-sea red crab fishery; ii) the ecology of hydrothermal vents and the potential impact of deep-sea mining on functional diversity; and iii) the cultural significance of the Atlantic seabed in the context of the transatlantic slave trade and the importance of memorializing those who died during their Middle Passage prior to commercial mining. Since graduating from Duke Phil has been working as a science-policy consultant for Seascape Consultants Ltd (United Kingdom). In this role he is helping to ensure that research generated by the EU funded Horizon-2020 projects ATLAS and iAtlantic are communicated to decision makers and used to inform on-going policy discussions. You can find all of his publications to date here.
Sophie Cannon, PhD Studentship on Engineering Analysis of 19th Century British Merchant Ships and Shipbuilding
Sophie is a Leverhulme Trust Doctoral scholar studying within the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton.
Sarah DeLand, Research Associate, Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab at Duke University
Sarah received her Master of Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. At Duke, she is focusing on geospatial analysis, marine spatial planning, species conservation, and coastal law and policy. She is earning a Geospatial Analysis Certificate and has completed the Marine Spatial Planning Advancement Training. Her career interests include Marine Spatial Planning, Marine Geospatial Analysis, Climate Change, and Coastal Resources Management. Her specialties include ArcGIS, Python, R, Excel, conflict resolution.
James P. Delgado, Senior Vice President, SEARCH, Inc.
Dr. Delgado joined SEARCH, Inc. in 2017. In his role as Sr. VP, Dr. Delgado is responsible for ensuring operational and research excellence, implementing strategic initiatives, and expanding the firm’s international footprint.
Additionally, Dr. Delgado is a public speaker, international delegate, documentary host, major projects spokesperson as well as author, co-author and editor.
Patrick Halpin, Associate Professor of Marine Geospatial Ecology, Co-Chair of Coastal Environmental Management (CEM) Program, and Director of the Geospatial Analysis Program at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
Dr. Halpin’s research focuses on marine geospatial analysis, ecological applications of geographic information systems and remote sensing; and marine conservation and ecosystem-based management.
David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor Emeritus of History, Emory University
Dr. Eltis’ research interests are the early modern Atlantic World, slavery, and migration – both coerced and free. Additionally, co-editor of the Transatlantic Slave Trade database at www.slavevoyages.org, he is also the principal investigator of a two-year NEH funded collaborative project on the origins of Africans pulled into the transatlantic slave trade.
Michael I. Kanu, Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative for Legal Affairs, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations
Mr. Kanu’s “…portfolio covers representation in the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, following the work of the International Law Commission, Commission on the Law of the Sea, the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law and other specialized agencies of the UN in New York.”
Charlotte S. Sussman, Associate Professor of English at Duke University
Professor Sussman is a co-convener of the Representing Migration Humanities Lab.
Additionally, she is an author –
- Consuming Anxieties: Consumer Protest, Gender and British Slavery, 1713-1833.
- Imagining the Population: British Literature in an Age of Mass Migration, 1660-183
Ole Varmer, Senior Fellow at The Ocean Foundation
Ole Varmer has over 30 years of legal experience in international and United States environmental and historic preservation law. Additionally, he worked for almost 33 years at the Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where he developed his expertise in the Law of the Sea, marine environmental law, maritime law and heritage law (natural and cultural).
Cindy L. Van Dover, Harvey W. Smith Professor of Biological Oceanography at Duke University
Cindy Lee Van Dover is a deep-sea biologist with an interest in ocean exploration and the ecology of chemosynthetic ecosystems. She began her work in this field in 1982, joining the first biological expedition to hydrothermal vents on the East Pacific Rise. On receiving her Ph.D. in 1989, Van Dover joined the group that operates the deep-diving submersible ALVIN. She qualified as pilot in 1990 and was pilot-in-command of 48 dives. Her current research focuses primarily on the study of biodiversity, biogeography, and connectivity of invertebrates from chemosynthetic ecosystems and invertebrate functional anatomy. in addition, she is active in developing pre-industrialization policy and management strategies for deep-sea resources.
** Interviewed for this episode
2 June 2021
Seas the Day Podcast
Series – Faculty Files (F-Files)
Episode 19 – Memorializing the Middle Passage in the Deep Atlantic
Hi everyone, this is Lisa Campbell at Seas the Day. Before we get started with today’s episode, I wanted to let you know that we will be taking a ‘break’ for the next two months. We’ll be recruiting new student team members and working on content for our second year of production.
We’ll be back in mid-August with more stories from the series you already know, and some that you don’t… For example, in this last episode of our 2020/21 season, we’re introducing a new series, the F-Files, and we’re really excited about it. I’ll let series host Stephanie Hillsgrove explain.
But before I do, let me say, from all of us at Seas the Day, thank you for listening. We’re so grateful for your feedback and support as we’ve worked to figure out this podcasting thing. We are looking forward to year two and hope you are as well.
And now, introducing ‘the F-Files’.
- Music – Joe Morton, “Oyster Waltz” (instrumental)
Welcome to Seas the Day, a podcast from the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina. I’m your host Stephanie Hillsgrove, and today’s episode is the first in a new series called Faculty Files, or F-Files. The F-Files series highlights Duke University Marine Science and Conservation faculty, including their lab members and research.
In this series we’re interested in telling the stories behind the research, beyond what you may have seen on the web or read in a journal; a more in-depth glimpse of who we are as a research community.
We’ll share a recent publication by a faculty member or group of faculty, as a way to focus the episode; this provides an opportunity to get to know the faculty member and their coauthors (and more about their research) as well as a chance to dive a little deeper into the paper and story behind the paper/behind the research.
For the first episode of this new series, we’re focusing on “Memorializing the Middle Passage on the Atlantic seabed in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction” – this paper was published in the journal Marine Policy in October 2020.
There are ten authors contributing to this paper and they are as follows:
- Phillip J. Turner
- Sophie Cannon
- Sarah DeLand
- James P. Delgado
- David Eltis
- Patrick N. Halpin
- Michael I. Kanu
- Charlotte S. Sussman
- Ole Varmer
- Cindy L. Van Dover
These authors, researchers, collaborators are from Duke University, Emory College, the University of Southampton, SEARCH Inc., The Ocean Foundation, and Republic of Sierra Leone, Permeant Mission to the UN – and they’ve all come together to write this paper.
From the abstract – “Exploration for mineral resources on the international seabed (the “Area”) in the Atlantic Basin is already underway, governed by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Member States of the ISA have a duty to protect objects of an archeological and historical nature found in the Area. Such objects may be important examples of underwater cultural heritage and can be tied to intangible cultural heritage, as evidenced through links with religion, cultural traditions, art and literature. Contemporary poetry, music, art, and literature convey the significance of the Atlantic seabed in African diasporic cultural memory, but this cultural heritage has yet to be formally recognized by the ISA.”
Additionally, in advance of mineral exploitation, the authors would like to encourage the ISA to consider ways to both respect and memorialize those who have lost their lives and now rest on the Atlantic seabed – and believe it’s possible to increase awareness of the Middle Passage seascape without limiting exploitation of mineral recourses; as they’re not mutually exclusive.
The Middle Passage refers the second or middle voyage of a 3-part or triangular trade route; also, known as the transatlantic slave trade; the routes were – from Europe to Africa, from Africa to Americas, and from Americas to Europe. From the early 16th century to the 19th century more than 12.5 million African people, men, women and children, were kidnapped in Africa, moved to a port along the West African coast, and held captive and then forced to board ships that were set to sail to the Americas. The journey itself lasted months and the conditions onboard for the enslaved were dreadful and inhumane; some of the captives died from dehydration, starvation, disease, murder, and suicide – and the bodies of the dead would be tossed overboard. And, out of the 40,000 plus voyages from West Africa across the Atlantic, at least a thousand ships and all those on board were lost at sea; their final resting place is the Atlantic seabed.
- Music – Piano (instrumental)
Let’s go ahead and meet two of the authors, and hear a little bit about what led them to write this paper –
C: I’m Cindy Van Dover and I’m a professor at Duke in the division of Marine Science and Conservation. And, by trade I’m a deep-sea explorer and I work a lot in deep sea hot springs ecology of deep-sea ecosystems cold seeps; things like that for strange habitats on the sea floor.
And for me, this this thinking kind of had its origin of when I arrived at Duke in 2006 or so, and I met some of the folks who are in the humanities, divisions at departments at Duke, particularly Ian Baucom who introduced me, of course I knew about the slave trade, but I hadn’t really heard the term Middle Passage
And, discovery for me, Duke is a is a Center for scholarship on the on the Middle Passage and there was a big program going on at the time about the Middle Passage, and so that put that in my mind. And then, as, in 2006 was really about the time that 2005/2006, I was getting involved in thinking about deep sea mining and these this regulatory agency, the International Seabed Authority and I knew. So I was involved in terms of thinking about how science can inform environmental policy, environmental management and policy for the Seabed Authority if they’re going to mine, the deep sea then there’s got to be some really good environmental management so that we don’t destroy things.
And as part of that work thinking about environmental management, I learned about the requirement that the Seabed Authority, and of course its UN bodies, all UN bodies have an obligation to protect cultural heritage. And, so that led me to think well what kinds of cultural heritage are there in the in the deep sea. And we know about the Titanic and other major shipwrecks that are in deep water, but I at some point, I put the Middle Passage together with the cultural heritage of the deep sea and seabed mining. And so, it’s so it was a little nugget in a little brain cloud that that just sat on the back burner for a long time till Phil came along, and we actually started to do something.
P: I’m Philip Turner. I’m a Duke Alum I got my PhD back in 2019, and the paper we’re discussing is actually the final piece of my PhD thesis.
The paper really came from an idea and thoughts that Cindy had and the concept kind of involved first during a research trip to South Hampton. And, between Cindy myself and another master student called Austin Smith, who when Cindy talked about the potential for the Atlantic seabed to contain artifacts relating to the transatlantic slave trade; started thinking about what that means in terms of the environmental management around deep sea mining and kind of the responsibility that might be laid with the International Seabed Authority to recognize that history. Austin Smith started the initial background research to see what kind of data actually existed around the mortalities and that suffered during the transatlantic slave trade, and what artifacts may be present on the Atlantic seabed.
And, that kind of evolved more and more as we researched the topic into this broader discussion about tangible cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage, the different cultural values tied with the Atlantic seabed
Because it was as we read different poetry different literature and listen to music and it became quite evident that the Atlantic seabed has cultural significance for African people and people of African descent. And that is often discussed as a as a burial ground or a place to find African history and because of this very dark period of history, and the deaths that did occur during the transatlantic slave trade.
To circle back on something that Cindy mentioned, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is the regulatory body that oversees the use of the seabed and has the authority, and unique ability, to memorialize the legacy of the Middle Passage.
According their website, “The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization…through which States Parties to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea organize and control all mineral-resources-related activities in the Area for the benefit of mankind as a whole. In so doing, ISA has the mandate to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from deep-seabed related activities.” And continues to state that “the Area and its resources are the common heritage of all mankind. The Area, seabed that is beyond national jurisdiction, and covers approximately 54% of the total area of the world’s oceans.”
I asked Phil and Cindy if they could put this in context for me –
P: So, if we think about kind of the ocean and the ocean space it’s most broadly separated into kind of two regions. So, from a coastline out to 200 nautical miles the country has jurisdiction over that area, whereas beyond that, in what’s known as ‘the areas beyond national jurisdiction’ and the seabed becomes the area that the International Seabed manages.
So, the International Seabed isn’t owned by any one country in particular, it is purely the jurisdiction of the International Seabed Authority and their remit is really to manage the resources on and underneath the International Seabed on behalf of all these countries of humankind as a whole.
And so, that’s kind of the spatial boundaries of the International Seabed Authority operate in; and within their kind of mandate is set up by the United Nations Convention Law of the Sea. That law is what formed the International Seabed Authority through an implementing agreement and they kind of set the rules that the international have to follow and part of that relates to cultural heritage.
But that’s very specifically about artifacts and human remains it doesn’t necessarily encompass this general encompasses general cultural value that we’re also talking about. What I think is really is key, is that in my mind, because the International Seabed Authority has to act on behalf of humanity as a whole and manage the resources of the international seabed for everyone, as a whole.
They to do that they kind of have to be cognizant of all the different values that are tied into marine spaces and that’s kind of where this intangible cultural heritage conversation becomes important
C: The International Seabed Authority it really has you know at its at its biggest overview, it has responsibilities to promote and support exploitation of mineral resources on the seabed and to protect the marine environment from harm.
And so, where this comes into play with the Middle Passage, you want to have to think about well what marine resources are we even talking about so clearly for the Middle Passage is the trade from Africa to the to the Americas of enslaved Africans; so, it’s across the Atlantic basin.
And in the Atlantic basin and the mineral resources that the Seabed Authority is promoting or/and the States, the Member States are interested in exploiting are the pellet, what’s called polymetallic sulfide, these are minerals copper rich minerals at hot springs on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. So the ship’s the slave trading ships passed over this region of the of the Atlantic.
And then they’re also there’s another mineral resource called cobalt, polymetallic cobalt crust, and those occur on certain kinds of plateau areas with the right kind of geochemical oceanography and those also occur in the Atlantic beneath, beneath the waves, where the slave ships were.
And so, there are there are at least two resources mineral resources that the Seabed Authority is managing and has given out contracts for exploration. So, it is the Atlantic, at least on paper, a busy places no mining of course at this point, but it’s a busy place for the International Seabed Authority.
So that’s part of what we’re thinking about in in trying to bring together this these ideas of the cultural heritage of the deep Atlantic, and the idea of exploiting the sea floor. And wanted to make sure that heritage is respected, regarded, remembered, and somehow if not prominent, somehow kept in the minds of the of the contractors, the Seabed Authority secretariat and the Member States.
What are the chances of finding an artifact?
P: The Atlantic Ocean is vast, and the Middle Passage is not simply one route, it is multiple routes that connected I think it’s 40 some ports within Africa to numerous different locations within all of the Americas.
And the who knows what the chances are of locating at a tangible artifact the chances obviously increase the more and more we are active on the seabed, but we don’t know whether a tangible artifact will be found on the international seabed due to deep sea mining activities.
But just because you haven’t found a tangible artifact, doesn’t mean that the space isn’t important to certain people and all that it does not erase that history.
And I think that’s where the intangible cultural values, and the importance of the Atlantic seabed to different peoples, people with different world views is really important. And in the paper, we try and pull that evidence from poetry, music, and literature to kind of highlight how the Atlantic seabed is talked about more within an African diasporic cultural memory.
And even if an artifact isn’t found that space still holds value as evidence, through poetry, music, literature. So, this idea of memorialization is a way to respect and acknowledge that cultural significance, regardless of whether a tangible artifact is found or not.
The idea of ribbons was an idea that Cindy had, and it’s kind of a cartographic memorial that can highlight this place as having significance in history and for people of African people and people of African descent.
[Steph: These ribbons would be illustrated on the map as a physical representation of the Middle Passage across the Atlantic Ocean.]
The paper is really trying to start a conversation, it the ribbons are one idea of how memorialization may take place, but we’re super conscious as authors it’s not it’s not our place to make that recommendation or to say that this is how a memorial should take place.
And it’s really trying to start a conversation at International Seabed Authority about whether a memorial is needed on the Atlantic seabed, and in this context and what a memorial should look like.
And we’re really fortunate and very thankful to our coauthor Michael Kanu who is part of the delegation for Sierra Leone who joined the paper and as part of the delegation for Sierra Leone. With the manuscript now being published, he can lead those conversations with other African states and the African group to the International Seabed Authority to get their perspectives on this idea and to lead that conversation at International Seabed Authority. So it’s really just trying to initiate things considerations
During our discussion, Phil mentioned as part of writing this paper that they leaned on coauthors to send them book references and resources as the project, the paper, stretches across multiple disciplines. And it was through this process that small personal discoveries were found, and it just goes to show the importance of having these wider conversations.
C: Personal discovery, my own discovery, I had no idea that there was a mythology of Drexciya. That there was this intangible heritage of that of the African American community, and I think it spreads beyond the African American community and in the US.
And well clearly it does, in terms of not so much Drexciya per se, but the poetry, the Derek Walcott poem. You know there there’s an appreciation, contemporary appreciation, of the Middle Passage that I had not been sensitive to in the artistic expression of that of that experience is very much, seems to me, to be very much alive.
And I think that was a that was a real lesson to me the things that we have discovered that Phil discovered, to begin with, and we keep on discovering of how much is going on in this space.
And then the other perspective is I’m a white privileged woman and an academic right with it, whether that matters or not, and I don’t know, but I don’t know in the in the US, I guess I’m taking a US centric view of things here, but I don’t know how many African Americans are aware of what is poised to happen in that ocean space.
I honestly don’t know if it matters right, because, you know mining and it’s not going to impact most things; and we’ve got it on paper anyway, protections for the tangible artifacts. But I felt that the I just felt the word, we need to get the word out somehow, and this is my clumsy, or our clumsy, not to call anybody else clumsy, my clumsy way to the kind of, like Phil said, open that conversation and discussion.
I think we’ve understood from Michael Kanu the Ambassador from Sierra Leone, that the African group, which is a group of African Member States of the International Seabed Authority, have been thinking of this anyway, before we connected with him for this paper. But it was new it was all new to me to be thinking about.
So, as you know, my little bit of exploration and discovery and it’s I don’t know how to say this humbly and without appropriating anything, but it was really a surprising, and fascinating to, and moving to learn these things.
The paper discusses the contemporary cultural significance of the Atlantic seabed as seen in poetry, art, music – so, I asked Cindy and Phil if they could share or highlight one of the pieces mentioned in the paper or even one that wasn’t in the paper.
P: I think I’d like to highlight the Lucille Clifton poem; I think Cindy found this one and share that with me originally.
But there’s a really good video on YouTube and where Lucille Clifton actually reads it out and talks a bit about her views around that poem.
And from that interview she talks about kind of the difference between the Atlantic and the Pacific; and how she loves the Pacific and because it’s a friendly ocean doesn’t have the history that the Atlantic Ocean has – that interview with her is really, really powerful
“I was trying to explain to a colleague at the University of California why I like the Pacific a lot, and they were trying to tell me why the Atlantic is the best option. So now you know the kind of intellectual conversation that goes on among faculty. We be talking about what’s the best ocean – that’s the truth, what could I tell you. And I, it was hard to explain to her why a person of my color may not be that crazy about the Atlantic, can you, can you understand why? After all which has not been my friend. Now, it is also true that a person who is Oriental is not too crazy about the Pacific because some not such hot things happened across the Pacific. But anyway, this is about that, and this is another song we used to sing in the Baptist Church, when I used to be Baptist, it starts with…”
- Poem – Lucille Clifton, “Atlantic is a Sea of Bones” (recorded 1988)
(singing) Them bones/ them bones will/ rise again/ them bones/ them bones will/ walk again/ them bones/ them bones will/ talk again/ now hear/ the word of the Lord.
Atlantic is a sea of bones. / my bones/. my elegant Afrikaans/ connecting whydah and New York,/ a bridge of ivory./ seabed they call it./ in its arms my early mothers sleep./ some women leapt with their babies in their arms./ some women wept and threw the babies in./ maternal armies pace the Atlantic floor./ I call my name into the roar of surf/ and something awful answers.
With regard to a piece of poetry, art, literature, music mentioned in the paper, Cindy’s response –
C: I just find the Afro futuristic Drexciya world utterly fascinating! It’s such an… I would never have imagined the wild – What style of art is that? The graphic art that goes along with the Drexciya mythology, and then this very mysterious Clipping group from Detroit – What is it called Phil? The…
[P: Yeah, clipping.]
The techno – What’s a couple kind of music is electrode techno music?
[P: Yeah, techno]
And they are anonymous right, you don’t really know who this duo is intentionally, and they tell their story about this myth initially on the on the cover of the CDs. You know the face of this compact. And if you read it closely, you know it just has little bits of a hint of what this Drexciya myth is, and then it’s been captured by others and brought along in books, in a book and a graphic novel. What else?
It’s pretty amazing how this Drexciya myth has been brought forward by multiple people and I imagine it’s still continuing.
P: And over quite a long period of time; obviously shows its importance from that original conception. Drexciya album in ‘97 and then I have the book from 2019 by Rivers Solomon called The Deep. So yeah, that timespan where this mythology is still evolving and being built upon by other creative works it’s really, really amazing!
I’d never heard about the Drexciya before, so I asked Phil and Cindy if they could expand a little more on this…
P: Drexciya is a band is a technique duo and this is duo in 1997 came out with an album called The Quest, and as Cindy alluded to earlier the on the album cover is kind of spells out and lose to this wide of mythology that inspired a lot of the music.
And the mythology in a nutshell is that there’s a civilization that has established on the Atlantic seabed and populated by Drexciyans, and those Drexciyans that ancestors of enslaved African women.
And their mothers were thrown over the side of slave ships and for being just disruptive cargo that’s what it says on the on the in the mythology. So, these their children were born from the womb into the Atlantic Ocean, and because of that they never needed to breathe the air they became these aquatic beings and establish this community on the Atlantic seabed; descended from enslaved African women; that’s really powerful mythology –
[C: And then it goes on the more recent stuff at what when does the uprising come with the…P: oh yes.]
That comes from Clipping – and so in This American Life, the podcast had an episode all about Afrofuturism as a as a genre, and as part of that they commissioned a song called “The Deep” by this technique group clipping.
And the opening phrases that talks about that Cindy of us to this uprising, where I think it’s because of humans going down into the depths for resources. I think they quote oil in gas, and because of that disrupting the Drexciyan civilization and then uprising in the song.
- Music – clipping. “The Deep”
Our mothers were pregnant African women thrown overboard while crossing the Atlantic Ocean on slave ships/ we were born breathing water as we did in the womb/ we build our home on the sea floor unaware of the two leg surface dwellers until the world came to destroy ours/ with cannons they search for oil beneath our cities their greed and recklessness forced our uprising
tonight, we remember –
ya’ll remember how deep it go/ started from the bottom/ y’all remember how deep it go/ for you had to come back/ deep/ y’all remember when it used to be deep/ so deep/ so so deep/ when you swim up out your momma while your momma was asleep/ so deep/ so so deep/ and remember when y’all have dance floor lit dark no two step/ deep/ ya’ll don’t even sweat deep/ as deep is it gets dreaming dead asleep and keeping time/ y’all heartbeat deep/ y’all heartbeat deep/ and all the fishes had they eyes bugged out ’cause y’all dancing underwater and/ y’all don’t get wet in the dark smelled sweet and y’all tails touch brief/ y’all feed off the bottom/ but now y’all remember/ ya’ll remember
To wrap our discussion today, one question that we posed “how do you memorialize/honor something you can’t see?”
Mentioned in the paper, we’d talked a bit about the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project; and per their website, they are a non-profit organization established in 2011 to honor the 2 million captive Africans who perished during the transatlantic crossing known as the Middle Passage and then 10 million who survived to build the Americas. And on their website they have a map showing the documented Middle Passage sites in the United States, including one Beaufort NC. This organization works with local communities and organizations at these sites to install a marker as well as hold a ceremony commemorating of the lives of African ancestors.
C: The paper also acknowledges that there is a memorial or international recognition of the Middle Passage at the United Nations campus in New York City it’s called the Arc of Return
And, reading from the paper it’s it has three elements acknowledge the tragedy, consider the legacy, unless we forget and so you could ask why well if the UN has it in quotes covered why would we push for something else,
and I think in my mind to come back to the fact that it is the Seabed Authority that is exploring the seabed and will be exploiting and disturbing the seabed and it’s not that we want to inhibit mining at all
We just want to raise the consciousness raise the raise the raise the awareness of the of those involved with the Seabed Authority about this about this heritage.
The cartographic ribbons is a way to memorialize the Middle Passage in a way that’s meaningful to the people involved in working on the seabed and in mining and it’s it can be broader than that, but I think it for my, from my perspective I think it’s important for the for the players, stakeholders and contractors and regulatory authority to keep this in their minds and again it’s not to inhibit mining.
How does this tie into a quote posed at the end of the paper?
P: A question that we pull up at the end of the paper but and that really pulls into focus the question posed by Sowande’ Mustakeem and we quoted in the paper and she says “how and
more aptly can the dead be remembered if many of slavery is dead and never found” and that was a poignant quote, that we found in our research and really speaks to why this conversation is important.
And, the International Seabed Authority because of how it’s made up it’s a United Nations level organization all these countries come to the table physically in one room I feel like there is an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about what these ocean spaces mean and have been historically.
And how to build that idea of remembering and respecting internationally and with within the activities that everyone’s doing at the International Seabed Authority; and Cindy spoke about how the cartographic memorial is it’s a good way to communicate that to the International Seabed Authority as maybe that comes.
And all these plans of where you’re exploring and where you’re potentially mining are discussed around a map that the only way to picture to depict different state contract different state parties and contractors,
the areas that are designated is through map form so by layering that kind of that history and the cultural value the wrong word layering that that history on to the map brings that to the forefront of people’s minds as they are thinking about where you’re exploring and where or potentially exploiting it for brings that to the forefront and
C: …and it comes also like you’re saying from anybody who talks about contracts on the sea floor from the ISA that really shows a map
So for the Atlantic basin, you see the contracts of the other Polish, Russian and French contractors and Brazil for the for the cobalt crust and those maps are shown in dozens and dozens of fora well as on the internet.
You know I had students asked me well, so you keep that focus on the ISA and what about the rest of the world, how are they going to know about this and I think you know the rest of the world there are many other ways of doing this and it’s you know takes a collective approach, so there is; for example, the poetry, and the Drexciya mythology and the music and the art and the memorials in ports and memorials, the memorial at the UN campus in New York city.
You know collectively all these things are keeping this in our minds, and so I think it’s I think the, you know, the maps will be if it was just routinely on a map there’s always on the maps they show Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, I could just as easily put a representative, you know abstract even lines, shadows, semitransparent ribbons that you know that’s one way. Whether this is again as Phil said it’s a discussion it’s up for us to we’re trying to open the discussion and there may be even more elegant ways to do this…
And as we close out this episode, here’s Derek Walcott –
Derek Walcott: “The Sea is History. Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?/ Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,/ in that grey vault. The sea. The sea/ has locked them up. The sea is History./ First, there was the heaving oil,/ heavy as chaos;/ then, like a light at the end of a tunnel, the lantern of a caravel,/ and that was Genesis./ Then there were the packed cries,/ the shit, the moaning:/ Exodus./ Bone soldered by coral to bone,/ mosaics/ mantled by the benediction of the shark’s shadow,/ that was the Ark of the Covenant./ Then came from the plucked wires/ of sunlight on the sea floor/ the plangent harps of the Babylonian bondage,/ as the white cowries clustered like manacles/ on the drowned women,/ and those were the ivory bracelets/ of the Song of Solomon,/ but the/ ocean kept turning blank pages/ looking for History./ Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors/ who sank without tombs,/ brigands who barbecued cattle,/ leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore,/ then the foaming, rabid maw/ of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal,/ and that was Jonah,/ but where is your Renaissance?/ Sir, it is locked in them sea-sands/ out there past the reef’s moiling shelf,/ where the men-o’-war floated down;/ strop on these goggles, I’ll guide you there myself./ It’s all subtle and submarine,/ through colonnades of coral,/ past the gothic windows of sea-fans/ to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed,/ blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen;/ and these groined caves with barnacles/ pitted like stone/ are our cathedrals,/ and the furnace before the hurricanes:/ Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills/ into marl and cornmeal,/ and that was Lamentations—/ that was just Lamentations,/ it was not History;/ then came, like scum on the river’s drying lip,/ the brown reeds of villages/ mantling and congealing into towns,/ and at evening, the midges’ choirs,/ and above them, the spires/ lancing the side of God/ as His son set, and that was the New Testament./ Then came the white sisters clapping/ to the waves’ progress,/ and that was Emancipation/ jubilation, O jubilation—/ vanishing swiftly/ as the sea’s lace dries in the sun,/ but that was not History,/ that was only faith,/ and then each rock broke into its own nation;/ then came the synod of flies,/ then came the secretarial heron,/ then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,/ fireflies with bright ideas/ and bats like jetting ambassadors/ and the mantis, like khaki police,/ and the furred caterpillars of judges/ examining each case closely,/ and then in the dark ears of ferns/ and in the salt chuckle of rocks/ with their sea pools, there was the sound/ like a rumour without any echo/ of History, really beginning.”
We hoped that you enjoyed listening to today’s episode – and, if you like to keep the conversation going or share feedback, we’d love to hear from you; please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Music (background) – Joe Morton, “Oyster Waltz” (instrumental)
You’ve been listening to Seas the Day.
We’re on social media, Instagram and Twitter, @seasthedaypod
Thank you and thank you to Phil Turner and Cindy Van Dover – I really enjoyed our conversation and really appreciate you both.
And thank you to Jonathan Snipes and clipping for allowing us to share a short clip of The Deep.
Also, a thank you to Folger Shakespeare Library for granting permission to share the “The Sea is History” by Derek Walcott as read by Derek Walcott for the Folger’s O.B. Hardison Poetry Series in March 2007.
Today’s episode was written and produced by Stephanie Hillsgrove and Nora Ives
Our theme music, The Oyster Waltz, was written and recorded by Joe Morton.
For more about today’s episode, including links and other content mention in this episode, check out our website at sites.nicholas.duke.edu/seastheday
Thanks for listening!
Turner, P. J., Cannon, S., DeLand, S., Delgado, J. P., Eltis, D., Halpin, P. N., Kanu, M. I., Sussman, C. S., Varmer, O., & Van Dover, C. L. (2020). Memorializing the Middle Passage on the Atlantic seabed in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. Marine Policy, 122, 104254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2020.104254.
Lucille Clifton Reads Her Poetry. (1988) Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/webcast-3656/.
clipping. – The Deep. YouTube. (2017, August 18). https://youtu.be/zT1ujfuXFVo.
Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP). Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP) | Remembering Ancestors. (2021, April 26). https://www.middlepassageproject.org/.
International Seabed Authority. Home. (2021, May 21). https://www.isa.org.jm/.
National Geographic. (2020, November 17). Episode 4: The Search for History’s Lost Slave Ships. Podcasts. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard/article/episode-4-search-history-lost-slave-ships-overheard.
This American Life podcast, Episode 623 “We Are in the Future” (2017)
“The Deep” (by clipping.)
The Deep (by Rivers Solomon)
The Quest (1997)
“Watery Ecstatic Series” (by Ellen Gallagher)
“Atlantic is a Sea of Bones” (by Lucille Clifton)
“The Sea is History” (by Derek Walcott)
“Lose Your Mother” (by Saidiya Hartman)
Enslaved with Samuel L. Jackson
Slave Wrecks Project (Smithsonian – National Museum of African American History & Culture)
Documenting Slave Voyages (Emory University)
Sownade’ Mustakeem (Assoicate Professor of History and of African and African-American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis)
“Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage” (University of Illinois Press, 2016) https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/88pnz5xm9780252040559.html
Ian Baucom (Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia)
“The Interdependency of the Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage” (By Mounir Bouchenaki, UNESCO)
The Atlantic Networks Project (by Andrew Sluyter, LSU Dept. of Geography & Anthropology)
Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP)
Diving with a Purpose
The Ark of Return (United Nations, NYC)
Remembering the Middle Passage (Duke University)
The Black Atlantic (Duke University)
Oceans@Duke “Deep Sea Mining: Assessing Challenges and Opportunities”
Seas the Day podcast, “Deep-sea Mining: Risks, Rewards and Resistance”
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- Duke Today, “Group Urges Atlantic Seafloor be Labeled a Memorial to Slave Trading” (by Karl Leif Bates, November 2020)
- The Guardian, “Drexciya: How Afrofuturism is Inspiring Call for an Ocean Memorial to Slavery” (by Helen Scales, January 2021)
- Nicholas School of the Environment, “The Race to Create a Seabed Memorial to Slave Trade Victims” (by Tim Lucas, April 2021)
Interviewees, Phil Turner and Cindy Van Dover, thank you both!
Thank you to Jonathan Snipes and clipping. for allowing us to share a short clip of The Deep. Website: http://www.clppng.com/
Also, a thank you to Folger Shakespeare Library for granting permission to share the “The Sea is History” by Derek Walcott as read by Derek Walcott for the Folger’s O.B. Hardison Poetry Series in March 2007. Learn more about the Folger at folger.edu
Faculty Files (F-Files) Credits
Episode 19 Written & Hosted by – Stephanie Hillsgrove
Episode 19 Co-Produced by – Stephanie Hillsgrove & Nora Ives