Remnants of Slavery began as a Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) project for Brian Geyer. In the summer of 2014, Matrix staff returned to Dakar, Senegal to continue their partnership with Dr. Ibrahima Thiaw at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UDAP). Dr. Thiaw serves as the lead archaeologist for excavations of Gorée Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its significance as a symbol of the Atlantic slave trade. During their visit, Matrix staff assisted researchers affiliated with UCAD and that university's Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN) with ongoing digitization of archaeological artifacts from the island. These scans became the first objects available for visualization in Remnants of Slavery.Those involved employed a number of scanning techniques and equipment, such as hand-held laser scanners and photogrammetry, to obtain quality scans. To learn more about the project, please visit the project's website.
Located to the west of the port of Dakar, Gorée Island represents one of the most compelling locations at which to explore the nature and trajectory of culture interaction in one of the earliest transnational communities of the Atlantic world. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978, Gorée Island has been the focus of intense scholarly debate as to its place in the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Archaeological work on the island began in 2001 under the direction of Dr. Ibrahima Thiaw, Associate Professor of Archaeology at IFAN at UDAP. The goal of the work was to explore Gorée’s role in Atlantic history through the lens of archaeological survey, testing and excavations and to provide preliminary insights on material culture, mortuary practices, refuse disposal, and site layout that could be compared to documentary sources. The data recovered was used to explore historical silences and develop hypotheses on how identity, power, gender, and class relations were regulated in the quotidian life of Goreans over the past five hundred years. In addition to the work carried out by Dr. Thiaw, several archaeological fieldschools from Rice University were carried out on Gorée Island.
The results of the excavations on Gorée Island are housed at IFAN and include locally manufactured pottery and metal artifacts (predominate in the pre-18th century context) and imported European trade goods including glass objects (mainly beads and glass bottles), metal objects, imported ceramics (which become important in the post 18th century context), cauris shell buttons, architectural remains, and military artifacts (shotguns, pieces of shot, gunflints). In addition, the collection includes all of the records, maps, reports, and grey literature from the various excavations.
Brian Geyer is a Ph.D. student of anthropology at Michigan State University. His research focuses on the political ecology of land tenure, conservation, and pastoralism in eastern Africa. Prior to starting at MSU in 2012, Brian served as a public health volunteer for the United States Peace Corps in Kenya, where he assisted a pastoral Maasai community near a major ecotourism destination. At MSU, Brian works in the Lab for the Education and Advancement in Digital Research (LEADR). Through his job with LEADR, a digital technologies education pedagogy lab, Brian works with anthropology faculty to craft digital projects that can be tailored to course curricula and teaches undergraduate and graduate students the knowledge necessary for completing those projects.