The Art of Remembering & Making A Way—Going There, Knowing There & Other Curious Lessons from “The Genius of the South”


How do we imagine the future, especially in our current moment? This keynote encourages us to consider lessons learned and shared by those who have gone before us. This includes a giant of our discipline, Zora Neale Hurston, whose praxis challenges us to be present and to listen and learn from another vantage point.

Listening informs our praxis. In this keynote I will share ways listening has propelled entry into new spaces of inquiry, activism, and being through direct engagement, such as the Black Cemetery Network. It is surprising what we learn when we listen. When people speak, we generally hear them, but it is when we listen that we learn. Our narrator, our teacher can be a hidden gravesite, a toxic waste site, a racial trope, an elder’s story, a youth’s imagination, a river flowing or an ocean current; a breeze, a poem, a song, a sigh, a laugh, a drum beat, a quilt, a basket sewed with love or rice recipes shared with pride; soothing hands and calloused hands; a familiar smell, or taste for a special dish cultivated over generations and handed down through ways of being and knowing. The call and response to, are you listening, is we hear you; we feel you; we connect in this moment with what you are sharing. This connecting and remembering is our charter as human beings and as practitioners.

These are our boldest moments to shine our brightest light as anthropologists, as people enmeshed in the public sphere. This keynote will amplify what can be learned, shared, activated, and acted upon from our listening on multiple levels and across multiple sectors and registers. This is a call to action to accept the mantle and the charge as living legacies of Zora Neale Hurston to center our human beingness in the many ways that we have been positioned to make a difference.

Dr. Antoinette Jackson’s keynote will integrate input/remarks (in a panel like format) from two additional speakers plus local artists.

Dr. Antoinette Jackson

Dr. Antoinette JacksonDr. Antoinette Jackson is Professor and Chair of the department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida (USF); Director of the USF Living Heritage Institute, and Founder and Director of the Black Cemetery Network (BCN).

Her research focuses on identity and representation at public sites of history and heritage in the US and in the Caribbean. Dr. Jackson’s work on heritage has been published widely. Her new book, Heritage, Tourism, and Race—the Other Side of Leisure was published by Routledge in 2020. And her book—Speaking for the Enslaved—Heritage Interpretation at Antebellum Plantation Sites, was published by Routledge in 2012.

Dr. Jackson and her team launched the Black Cemetery Network on June 15, 2021 as a call to action to raise awareness about the national issue of Black cemetery erasure and impact and implications for building a comprehensive knowledge of American history. Jackson’s work was featured on 60 Minutes in 2022 and 2023 and articles about the Black Cemetery Network have appeared in the New Yorker magazine, the New York Times, and on NPR.

Note: Dr. Jackson was a 100m All American hurdler at Ohio State University. She is a beekeeper and poet.