Association of Black Anthropologists
Oral Presentation Session
Mossville, Louisiana is a historic, unincorporated freedmen’s town that is surrounded by 14 petrochemical companies whose facilities include a petroleum refinery, a chemical plant, plastics manufacturers, a coal-fired power plant, natural gas plants, and several vinyl manufacturers. In 2011, the South African petrochemical corporation, Sasol, announced a plan to expand its facilities in the Mossville area, requiring a full buyout of the company and effectively resulting in its demise. In 2017, Sasol sponsored a Mossville oral history project that is on semi-permanent exhibition at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles. This talk examines the politics of memory production, memorialization, and how corporate discourses of social responsibility intersect in the space of the museum. The Mossville oral history project illustrates how corporations navigate the racialized politics of community displacement while also maintaining a reasonable claim to racial innocence as they engage in the project of black dispossession. The talk will also consider how displaced Mossville residents have responded to the oral history project and examine their counter-memorialization practices.