The Poetics of Place and Expressions of Oppositional Memory


  • Esther Lezra
  • George Lipsitz



The Black Atlantic creation of alternative archives illustrated in Parisa Urquhart’s 2019 documentary Strike for Freedom, which chronicles the unveiling of a historical plaque in Edinburgh to commemorate Frederick Douglass’s activism while he was in exile in Scotland, has a long and meaningful history. People without control over—or even access to—papers of state, conquerors’ memoirs, or officially commissioned histories have carried out the work of recovering, remembering, and reimagining the past through creative deployment of the meager tools at their disposal: stories, songs, and other forms of expressive culture and decoration, including three-dimensional artifacts of material culture such as medallions, buttons, drums, coins, statues, and Masonic aprons. In this article, we survey past and present manifestations of countermemory, place making, and place marking to locate Strike for Freedom within a larger story of oppositional countermemory.