TRAILER for "Biography of a Levee," a public history project in progress

The Bonnet Carré Crevasse is a striking example of the interplay of physical geography with racial capitalism that further stratifying race relations on material and symbolic terms. The lens of racial capitalism brings themes such as riverfront access, steamboat routes, and prices per hogshead into sharper focus. Plantation owners purchased slaves—already racialized subjects—from Africa, the Caribbean, and within the United States. Slaves planted, cultivated, and processed sugar from seed to cane to syrup to crystals. Sugar traveled across the Atlantic to European markets. Powerful Europeans, connected politically and economically to Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, and South America, became lenders and creditors to plantation owners. Plantation owner, perennially mired in debt, bought slaves and seed once again in the hopes of paying back their exorbitant loans. And so began the process of accumulation, loss, debt, and profit again, seemingly ad infinitum. The enslaved were both product and producer, property and property insurance. Slaves were sugar, sugar was capital, and capital was slaves. During and after the crevasse, slaves were “levee repair” and “levee repair” was slaves. The levee thus became black labor, and black labor became the levee.