Place Making and Place Marking

On Kinship and Relatedness as Groundwork for the Strike for Freedom


  • Rebecca Louise Carter



I encountered the film Strike for Freedom and the introduction to this special issue of Kalfou shortly before the 2019 winter break. It was perfect timing—just as I was traveling to Virginia to spend the holidays with my family members who are based in Charlottesville. There, the enshrinement of white supremacy is hard to ignore: the enduring effects of slavery unwilling to die are found quite literally at every turn. It is a landscape that remains difficult to traverse—requiring a constant reckoning with the social and spatial determinations of humanity for self and other. But the film directed by Parisa Urquhart (2019) and the introduction authored by Celeste-Marie Bernier and Nicole Willson (2020) reassured me of a continued and collaborative strike for freedom, in particular through the development of oppositional forms of place making and place marking. This occurs in a number of ways, including memory, history, testimony, and creative practice, to reinscribe the landscape, turning segregation into congregation, a process that works (as George Lipsitz makes clear in How Racism Takes Place) “to transform divisiveness into solidarity, to change dehumanization into rehumanization.”

I have thought a lot about congregation in particular—as it points to a necessary relatedness, to kinship in and through place, as the essential grounding for a continued strike for freedom, be it the relatedness of family for Frederick Douglass or for me in Charlottesville, or be it the scholarly and other forms of collaboration that bring us together in configurations of intellectual kinship that extend across different settings and platforms. To map these connections is to understand the interconnected threads of the freedom struggle, the footsteps that those before us took, the routes we now take, and the new constructs and practices of relatedness we develop.