NEWARK, NJ - Recent reports about tax hikes, black land loss, and the near extinction of Gullah culture in the Low country of regions of Georgia and South Carolina have made headlines in the New York Times, and featured on national TV networks like CNN. Missing from these reports is an account of how these unique African Americans emerged in the national imagination as distinct populations whose traditions should be documented and examined. Enter Melissa L. Cooper, an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University-Newark.
Her ground breaking book, Making Gullah: A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race and the American Imagination (University of North Carolina Press), was released on April 17, 2017. It is the first book to trace the construction of the Gullah identity. Using Sapelo Island as a case study, Cooper unearths the intellectual and cultural trends that inspired, and continues to inspire, fascination with Gullah culture and their African roots.
In addition, Making Gullah tells a larger story about race and the American imagination; offering readers an opportunity to discover the complexity of an identity famous for its simplicity and timelessness.