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Berkeley Talks: Reconsidering Black America’s relationship to the plantation

Follow Berkeley Talks, a Berkeley News podcast that features lectures and conversations at UC Berkeley. See all Berkeley Talks.

Close up of Alisha Gaines
Alisha Gaines, a professor of English at Florida State University, gave a talk, “Children of the Plantationocene,” at UC Berkeley in April. Gaines is the first scholar-in-residence of Berkeley’s Banned Book Project.

Courtesy of Alisha Gaines

In Berkeley Talks episode 203, Alisha Gaines, a professor of English and an affiliate faculty member in African American studies at Florida State University, discusses why it’s important for Black America to “excavate and reconsider” its relationship to the plantation. 

“If we were to approach the plantation with an intention to hold space for the Black people who stayed and labored there,” said Gaines at a UC Berkeley event in April, “we might see the plantation as another origin story — one of resistance, joy, love, craftsmanship and survival, and not just dehumanization and the porn of Black suffering.”

Gaines is currently at work on Children of the Plantationocene, a forthcoming book project about Black American origin stories, and is the first scholar-in-residence of Berkeley’s Banned Scholars Project. The project was launched by the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies in March 2024 in response to attacks on academic freedom across the nation.

Learn more about Gaines’ work and watch a video of her talk.