NOTE: On academic leave, 2021-2022
Tiya Alicia Miles is an author, university teacher, and public historian. She has written prizewinning works of African American and Native American history: Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (2005) and The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (2010). Her book The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits (2017) is a history of the enslavement of Native Americans and African Americans in early Detroit and won the OAH Merle Curti Social History Award and the OAH James A. Rawley Prize. She recently published a narrative study of race and gender in southern ghost tours entitled Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era (2015). Miles is also a writer of fiction, academic articles on indigenous women’s history, and feminist essays. Her debut novel, The Cherokee Rose (2015), is set on a haunted plantation in the Cherokee territory of present-day Georgia and was named a Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week. With the literary critic Sharon P. Holland, she coedited a collection of essays on Afro–Native American lives entitled Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (2006). Miles is Professor of History and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at Harvard University. She spent 16 years at the University of Michigan, where she was a Distinguished University Professor in the departments of American culture, Afroamerican and African studies, history, Native American studies, and women's studies. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a beneficiary of a Mellon Foundation New Directions in the Humanities Fellowship, and a recipient of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities.
This is a book talk focused on Miles's book, All That She Carried, the National Book Award winner for Nonfiction in 2021. The book is an interdisciplinary study of a family of Black women in South Carolina and their family keepsake, a cotton bag now known as Ashley's Sack. The talk includes discussion of the inspiration for the book, the nature of historical inquiry and archival research challenges, the histories and experiences of enslaved Black women, material culture and environmental contexts, and contemporary representations of slavery in museums.