Claiming Ownership: African Americans and the Problem of Property


ACLS Fellowship Program


American Studies

Named Award

ACLS/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Junior Faculty Fellow


My project investigates the various meanings of property in African American culture. I explore the legal, cultural and political aspects of the central transformation for African Americans from their being owned as property to their being able, as citizens, to claim ownership of property. I will survey the vast cultural resources African Americans have generated in response to the tensions in the relationship between property and identity. Sites of inquiry include Reconstruction era politics, black business and land proprietorship, the black church as sacred property, black consumerism, and property and death. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, I will place archival materials in conversation with literary texts, material culture, and other forms of cultural expression.