A Totally Different Form of Living
This article is a critical reflection that explores the histories of water, marronage, and Black placemaking in the southern United States. It uses insights from history, ethnography, and cultural geography to connect the dual histories of racial slavery and environmental degradation in the Tidewater region of Virginia and the Mississippi Delta. This essay argues that, during slavery, swamps, bayous, rivers, and wetlands were geographies in which a fleeting Black commons could be sustained hidden away from the violence of the plantation. These same ecologies are now under extreme duress from coastal subsidence, the petrochemical industry, and climate change. This reflection argues that by charting the meaningful cultural, spiritual, intellectual, and practical insights of Black southern communities, an alternative ecological practice born of maroon imaginaries might be developed that could resist the degradation of these vulnerable southern ecologies.