“Global Timbuktu” Symposium at Rutgers University
16 March 2017
The Rutgers Center for African Studies is hosting a series of symposium March 24th at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and March 25th at Burlington County, New Jersey on ‘Global Timbuktu: Meanings and Narratives of Resistance in Africa and the Americas’. The symposium commemorates the remarkable use of the name ‘Tombouctou’ for two antebellum Black settlements in New Jersey (1826 - Burlington County) and New York (1846 - Adirondack area). Both settlements were involved in the Underground Railroad that stretched through New Jersey into New York State. The New Jersey site, which is one of over 23 independent Black towns, was related to the influence of anti-slavery Quakers in Pennsylvania and became a settlement that fiercely defended runaway slaves who sought refuge there. New York site was established by a wealthy reformer and abolitionist, Gerrit Smith, who donated 120,000 acres of land to several thousand Black men in New York state to allow them to meet the property requirement (land worth $250) to vote. This settlement was also associated with the radical abolitionist, John Brown, who came there to teach these African American families to farm. Brown became an example of a radical abolitionism because of his daring raid of a U.S. armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in an attempt to secure weapons and distribute them to slaves. Today his body is buried near the Timbuctoo settlement.
The symposia includes several international scholars from Timbuktu, Mali, South Africa and the U.S. whose work falls within the scholarly tradition and archeology of that city and a number of U.S. based archeologists and historians who work on the New Jersey and New York ‘Timbuctoo’. The Burlington County symposium begins with a site visit to ‘Timbuctoo’ and a tour led by the archeologist, Dr. Christopher Barton, who directed the excavation. ‘Dreaming of Timbuctoo’ – an exhibit: The symposia will also include a historic exhibit of the New York settlement which includes drawings and photographs of early settlers, recruitment through black churches and farming efforts of the early settlers. This is curated by John Brown Lives!, a non-profit freedom, education and human rights project in the memory of John Brown.
See attached an electronic copy of the project poster which states the location and time of these events, and programme of the symposium here.