June 10, 2013 by Michele Seabrook
The current historic landscape in Southampton County is not historically understood as contested terrain. The statue that stands outside the county courthouse is a tribute to Confederate veterans. References to Nat Turner are nowhere to be found. I plan on utilizing the controversy still surrounding the rebellion to spark community debate, discussion, and analysis regarding the meaning of the rebellion. I will be traveling to Southampton County in a few weeks, during which time I will familiarize myself intimately with the landscape. This will allow me to develop a better understanding of the cultural and historical nuances of this underdeveloped historical resource. This engagement with the locale will allow me to create a site-specific narrative, creating a bridge between the user and the invaluable resource of the historical landscape itself. I took a bus tour of the sites of the insurrection, led by county clerk Rick Francis, a descendant of one of its victims. The area is still rural, and the caves where Turner hid after the rebellion are in the woods off a county road. It is easy to imagine the landscape as it was in 1831. It is my hope that returning to Southampton County will allow me to connect with Turner and his story on a visceral level, and that I will be able to convey that to others who may not have the opportunity to travel to Southampton.