Maritime Connections, Maritime Voices: African and Native American Histories of New England
Akeia de Barros Gomes, Ph.D., Senior Curator of Maritime Social Histories, Mystic Seaport Museum & Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown University
The Mellon Foundation-funded collaborative project Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty and Freedom seeks to re-examine the framing of New England as an historical location of “freedom and justice for all.” Native American, African and African American narratives provide us with new lenses through which to understand New England’s maritime story in a holistic way. Indigenous North American and African perspectives on cosmology, time and the sea have largely been silent (or silenced) in the framing of New England’s maritime history even though much of that history is one of Indigenous dispossession and racialized slavery. Working with Native American, African and African American descendant communities and telling history through their voices and the voices of ancestors provides insight into the enduring legacies, strength and resilience of the Sovereign Indigenous Nations and African-descended peoples of New England.
Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes is the Senior Curator of Maritime Social Histories at Mystic Seaport Museum and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University. Her work focuses on broadening the narrative of New England’s maritime history to foreground the voices and perspectives of Indigenous North Americans, Africans and African Americans in the framing of maritime history. Prior to her position at Mystic Seaport, Akeia was Curator of Social History at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. She earned her MA and PhD in Anthropology/Archaeology at the University of Connecticut and her BA at Salve Regina University. Before engaging in museum work, Akeia was Professor in the Departments of American Studies and Psychology and Human Development at Wheelock College in Boston from 2008-2017.