“This Shoal Which is Not One: Africans Who Fly and the More than Human Zone of the Littoral.”
Rebecca Schneider, Brown University
This essay explores variant stories surrounding the 1803 “Igbo Landing” on St. Simons Island, Georgia, during which a group of enslaved Africans mutinied against their captors and ran aground upon a shoal. Following Tiffany Lethabo King and other scholars of black feminist thought, the essay explores not only the littoral fact of shoals in seafaring but also deploys the concept of shoaling for troubling historical narratives oriented to settler colonial plot points. The essay asks what thinking with performance and the concept of liminality might offer attempts to account for sand, drift, and, in this case, Africans who fly. The essay also tells a story of its own regarding the author’s attempt to approach the historical site of Igbo Landing by sea. An example of performative writing, the essay does not so much launch and unpack a singular argument as it explores the littoral zones among and between ideas, stories, arguments, facts, and fabulation in relation.
Rebecca Schneideris Professor of Performance Studies at Brown University in Providence, RI, USA. She is the author of Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment (2011), The Explicit Body in Performance (l997), and Theatre and History (2014). She has published over fifty essays in the field, including “Solo Solo Solo” in After Criticism, “Slough Media” in Remain, “Finishing Live” in Representations, and “That the Past May Yet Have Another Future: Gesture in the Times of Hands Up” in Theatre Journal, recipient of the 2018 Oscar Brockett Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research.