Confronting Slavery in Historic Charleston: Changing Tourism Narratives in the Twenty-First Century Restricted; Files & ToC

Battle, Mary Pinckney (2013)

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Confronting Slavery in Historic Charleston: Changing Tourism Narratives
in the Twenty-First Century examines representations of the history of slavery and its race
and class legacies within Charleston, South Carolina's historic tourism landscape.
Through fieldwork conducted on selected plantation sites and developing public history
projects from 2007-12, Battle argues that despite recent groundbreaking developments,
Charleston's public history producers cannot develop representations that effectively
address the Lowcountry region's history of slavery just by adding African American
history tours. Since the late nineteenth century, historic tourism in Charleston has
emphasized an exclusive fantasy of the colonial and antebellum past for tourism
audiences by narrowly focusing on white elite lifestyles, architecture, and material
culture. This interpretive pattern continues in the present, even with recently added tours.
To effectively address the significance of slavery and its race and class legacies in
Charleston, public history producers and interpreters must comprehensively transform
traditional representation strategies to include emerging narratives of African American
experiences during and after slavery, and to confront the role of white elites in
maintaining and benefitting from this institution during the colonial and antebellum
periods. Scholarly research, diverse oral histories, and input from grassroots voices are
critical to this inclusive change. Within current economic constraints, Battle suggests
innovative solutions for transformation in Charleston's public history narratives, such as
multi-institutional collaboration and digital interpretation strategies.

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