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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Zora’s Legacy: Community, History, and Decolonial Methodology in Central Florida

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

This essay is a reflective letter from myself, the author, an undergraduate anthropology student at Rollins College in Central Florida, to pioneering anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Arising out of an anthropology course on the U.S. South, I reflect on Hurston’s foundational contributions to the discipline of anthropology, to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, and to my own institution, Rollins College, where Hurston directed and organized stage performances of folklore in the early 1930s. Despite Hurston’s works falling into obscurity towards the end of her life and the decades following, her contributions to Southern literature and anthropology survive to this day, inspiring scholars, Eatonville residents, and students alike to pursue more decolonial methodologies in ethnographic research. I ask Hurston many of my unanswered questions about her life, relationships, fieldwork methods, and messages from her works. I end with a call for anthropology students to continue stewarding Hurston’s legacy by engaging further with her work as an exemplary founder of American anthropology.


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