This essay concentrates on the relation between song and history in the lives of the enslaved and the afterlives of slavery, particularly by tracing the history of the song “Take Him to the Gulley,” which became known as “the famous slave song of Jamaica.” Thinking alongside Katherine McKittrick’s and Sylvia Wynter’s work on plantation geographies, the author argues that the gulley, a site of mass burial in the center of the song, was also a site of Black cultural expression and futurity—a place where death and life, torture and escape, enslavement and freedom collided and shaped each other. The essay traces the song as both a mode and a performance of history, in which, through the workings of reclamation, remembrance, and redress, an enslaver’s perverse punishment became a people’s history.

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