Dark Laboratory is a collective at the intersection of scholarship, artistic praxis, storytelling, and non-profit local community-driven engagement that centers and Black and Indigenous histories and futures in New York State by way of its land. Animated by two central aims – racial ecological justice and immersive storytelling – we approach debates about stolen lands and stolen life at the crossroads of what it means to be part of the University in relation to the surrounding ecology of rural communities.
Dark Laboratory will involve students and community partners in archival and site-specific research practices while learning from community members’ forms of storytelling and oral history. We posit that the legacy of African enslavement and the ongoing dispossession of Native sovereignty are critical to any serious exploration of American life (Ebony and Ivy: Race Slavery and the Troubled History of America’s Universities, Craig Steven Wilder). We aim to develop an ethical praxis for telling American stories.
We explore infrastructural questions including produce supply chains, sustainability, crop cycles and rotation, and soil exhaustion with community partner organizations including:
- Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
- Cayuga Nation
- The plurality of various Haudenosaunee groups from the state of New York
Outcomes will range from a virtual event series on digital storytelling technologies to collaborative journal publications and panels. We will employ site-specific design and virtual/augmented reality in exhibitions and projects on Black and Indigenous futurisms. These outcomes will be featured on a podcast that will showcase the Black and Indigenous voices together in conversation. We want to engage the landscape of freedom and abolition in Ithaca and Upstate New York as a case study for the globe on indigeneity.
Tao Leigh Goffe, assistant professor of Africana studies and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, creative technologist