UMW Geography Professor Awarded National Grant

University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Hanna is the recipient of a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct fieldwork at plantation museums in the American South. Hanna is professor of geography at UMW, and is an expert on commemorative landscapes, cartography, and critical applications of GIS.

Hanna and his research partners will conduct fieldwork at plantations, like the Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. Photo by Arnold Modlin (Norfolk State).

Hanna and his research partners will conduct fieldwork at plantations, like the Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. Photo by Arnold Modlin (Norfolk State).

The NSF grant, totaling $445,423 over three years, will support the project “Transformation of Racialized American Southern Heritage Landscape.”  Hanna is co-principal investigator for the project with David Butler (University of Southern Mississippi), Derek Alderman (University of Tennessee), Perry Carter (Texas Tech University), Amy Potter (Armstrong Atlantic State University), and Arnold Modlin (Norfolk State University).

The grant, supplemented by Hanna’s Waple Professorship, will allow Hanna and three UMW undergraduate students to join faculty and graduate students from the other universities to conduct fieldwork at plantation museums in Louisiana, coastal South Carolina and Georgia, and Virginia’s James River region.

Stephen Hanna

Stephen Hanna

During the fieldwork, students and faculty will survey and interview plantation visitors, tour guides, and owners, and will conduct participant observations of the tours. Based on pilot research already conducted at four plantation museums in Louisiana, the researchers aim to determine how and to what extent narratives of the enslaved are incorporated in the landscapes and narrations of these museums. They will document visitors’ experiences to show how the role of slavery in the region’s and country’s history are presented at these sites.

Throughout the project, Hanna will teach UMW students to transcribe, code and analyze qualitative data. Students will map the plantation sites and create a website, hosted by UMW, to disseminate the project’s results.

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.