Episode 383: Kevin Dawson, Aquatic Culture in Early America

Book Cover for Undercurrents of Power by Kevin Dawson The Atlantic World has brought many disparate peoples together, which has caused a lot of ideas and cultures to mix.

How did the Atlantic World bring so many different peoples and cultures together? How did this large intermixing of people and cultures impact the development of colonial America?

Kevin Dawson, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California-Merced and author of Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora, joins us to explore answers to these questions with an investigation of the African Diaspora and African and African American aquatic culture.

This episode was originally posted as Episode 224.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of Colonial Williamsburg Innovation Studios.

Episode Summary

Headshot of Kevin Dawson Kevin Dawson, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California-Merced and author of Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora, joins us to explore African and African American aquatic culture and how different aspects of that culture impacted the growth and development of colonial America.

During our investigation, Kevin reveals information about the African Diaspora and how it brought African peoples to the Americas and the Caribbean; Why it’s important to view people as working, living, and operating on both land AND water; And, the ways in which water featured into the lives of Africans and African Americans and how their water cultures impacted the development of colonial America.

What You’ll Discover

• The African Diaspora
• The African Diaspora by the numbers
• Impacts of the African Diaspora
• African aquatic culture
• Importance of viewing people as working, living, and operating on both land and water
• How water featured into African and African American lives and culture
• The roles of gender and age in African aquatic culture
• The relationship of Europeans and Euro-American colonists with water
• Ways African and African Americans used aquatic skills and knowledge to advantage
• Shipwreck diving and divers
• African and African Americans canoe cultures and traditions
• The myth Native Americans introduced Africans to canoes
• African canoe culture in early North America
• How African and African Americans aquatic culture impacted the American institution of slavery

Links to People, Places, and Publications

Kevin Dawson
• Kevin Dawson, Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora
Williamsburg Bray School
Transcript

Sponsor Links

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The Power of Place: The Centennial Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg 

Complementary Episodes

Episode 173: Colonial Port Cities and Slavery
Episode 206: Christian Slavery
Episode 289: Maroonage & the Great Dismal Swamp
Episode 295: Whitney Plantation Museum
Episode 308: Slavery & Freedom in French Louisiana
Episode 331: Discovery of the Williamsburg Bray School
Episode 347: African and African American Music

Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if Africans had not brought their deep aquatic culture and powerful aquatic skills to North America? How would the history of early America be different?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

Do you have a question, comment, or suggestion?

Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail or leave a comment.

Listen!

Enjoy the Podcast?

Why Not Listen regularly through one of these apps?

| Listen on Google Podcasts | Listen to Stitcher

Ratings & Reviews

If you enjoy this podcast, please give it a rating and review.

Positive ratings and reviews help bring Ben Franklin's World to the attention of other history lovers who may not be aware of our show

Click here to rate & review on iTunes | Click here to rate & review on Stitcher

More from this show

Subscribe