ReMapping New England is a collaboration between Atlantic Black Box and Indigo Arts Alliance that aims to re-member our communities in all their diversity and radically shift public consciousness toward truth.

Thursday, July 29, 2021, 5:00 PM ET

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This month we’ll be joined by Dr. Nicole Maskiell, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, who will present a talk on:

The Black Man in the Forest:
Race, Fugitivity, and the Creation of an Early Modern Boogeyman

When traveling with a group from New England to New York in August 1694, Benjamin Wadsworth described the route as a “hideous, howling wilderness,” where they “met a negro coming from Albany; but being very suspicious.” The man, a former soldier from the fort at Albany, was accosted by the group, detained and “pinion’d” but made his escape in the night. Generations later, New England novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne would conjure an image of Northeastern forests haunted by a diabolical “black man.” Such notions had as much to do about the region’s racial past and antebellum present as they had to do with Puritan cosmologies. Dr. Maskiell will discuss the ways that such stories have shaped her own explorations into the histories of Black Americans in the Northeast.

About the speaker

Dr. Nicole Maskiell is an historian specializing in family slaveholding networks in Anglo-Dutch colonial America. A native of Oak Park, Illinois, Dr. Maskiell received her A.B. cum laude from Harvard College in 2002, and her MA in 2010 and her Ph.D. in 2013 from Cornell University. Dr. Maskiell has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship in Dutch, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies Travel Grant for research in the Netherland Antilles (Curaçao), The Gilder Lehrman Fellowship for research in New York repositories, and the Huntington Mayers Fellowship for research in San Marino California. She is currently an Assistant Professor of History and McClausland Faculty Fellow at the University of South Carolina and serves as a faculty associate in African American studies and the Walker Institute for International Studies. Her current book project, under contract with Cornell University Press is entitled Bound by Bondage: Slavery and the Creation of a Northern Gentry. It examines the dense slaveholding ties that knit together Anglo-Dutch slaveholding families and spanned the colonial boundaries of the Atlantic, connecting the estates and manors of the Northeast to the plantations and great houses of the Southern colonies, Caribbean and European metropoles.

About the moderator

Dustin Ward is the Founder and Director It Is Time….LLC, an organization devoted to racial equity and reconciliation work, and serves on the board of Atlantic Black Box.

Atlantic Black Box is a grassroots historical recovery project that empowers communities throughout New England to research, reveal, and begin reckoning with the region’s complicity in the slave trade and the global economy of enslavement.

Indigo Arts Alliance connects Black and Brown artists from around the world with Maine’s artists of African descent through a multidisciplinary artist-in-residency program that embodies a Black-led approach to creativity, community-building, and mentoring.

This program is made possible in part by a grant from New England BioLabs’ (@nebiolabs) Social Justice Philanthropy program and funding from IAA Corporate Partners Allagash Brewing Company (@allagashbrewing).

Image: Family of Joost van Trappen Banckers by Willem C. Duyster (c. 1631-1633). Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

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