This film, Landscape of Power: Freedom and Slavery in the Great Dismal Swamp summarizes the three-year archeological field study of the Great Dismal Swamp in southern Virginia and North Carolina, conducted by Prof. Daniel Sayers and his team through a NEH "We the People" grant. Drawing on the major research findings that for the first time establish occupation by maroon communities in the swamp for more than 200 years, the film carries to the public a story of agency, resistance and resilience among escaped slaves. Choosing heat, insects, wild animals and the “unknown swamp” over plantation life, slaves defied their masters and chose freedom. As community historian Therbia Parker from Suffolk, Virginia says in the film, “You can put shackles on my wrists and ankles—but as long as I think freedom… as long as my ancestors were thinking freedom—they sought freedom.”
This film was written and directed by American University Filmmaker in Residence and anthropologist Nina Shapiro-Perl with cinematography and editing by filmmaker and anthropology graduate student, Beth Geglia. The film will be as a public tool for engagement about issues of violence, and resistance, resilience, maroons and slavery.