2021 Project Threadways Symposium

Join us virtually on April 16th and April 17th, 2021, for our annual symposium where we will explore the deep connection between material culture and making across time and place. 

Textiles across time and place

The theme of the 2021 symposium—“Textiles Across Time and Place: Examining a complicated past to create a more sustainable future”—places the story of textiles in our northwest Alabama community into a broader context by providing a timeline of textile history in the United States. This overview discusses the indigenous people who inhabited this area and the fibers they grew through the cotton economy of the antebellum south leading up to the Reconstruction era, sharecropping, and tenant farming. It also maps out the geography from the northeast corridor down through our region of the south, highlighting the once-thriving textile cities and towns.

Symposium speakers will focus on the geography of textiles, material culture, sustainable fashion, and clothing of the enslaved. The list of speakers includes Carrie Barske-Crawford, Jessamyn Hatcher and Thuy Linh Tu, Dana Thomas, Katie Randall, Kate Knowles, and Julius Tillery.

This event is in partnership with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and Alabama Chanin. All ticket sales will go to 501(c)(3) certified Project Threadways.

Schedule of Events

Friday, April 16, 2021

Please note all times are CST. 

2:00pm – 2:15pm  Symposium Welcome + Introductions

2:15pm – 3:00pm  Virtual Tour of The Factory

3:00pm – 4:00pm  Virtual T-Shirt Workshop

4:00pm – 4:45pm  The Future of Threadways with Natalie Chanin and Carrie Barske-Crawford + Virtual Cocktail Hour Discussion

4:45pm – 5:00pm  Closing Remarks

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Please note all times are CST. 

Each presentation will last approximately 30 minutes with a 30 minute Q&A. 

Morning Session

8:00am – 8:15am  Symposium Welcome + Introduction

8:15am – 9:15am  Material Culture Across Time from Carrie Barske-Crawford

9:20am – 10:20am  The Geography of Textiles with Katie Randall, Jessamyn Hatcher, Thuy Linh Tu

10:25am – 11:25am  The Future of Fashion with Dana Thomas

11:30am  – 12:30pm  Break

Afternoon Session 

12:30pm – 12:40pm  Opening Remarks

12:40pm – 1:40pm  An Expanded Oral History with Katie Randall

1:45pm – 2:45pm  Enslaved People and Fast Fashion with Katie Knowles

3:00pm – 4:00pm  Black Cotton with Julius Tillery

4:00pm – 5:00pm  Virtual Cocktail Hour Discussion


Learn more about each of our symposium presenters.

Carrie barske-crawford

Director of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area and an affiliated faculty member in the University of North Alabama Department of History



Founder and principal of Afore Preservation, a consulting firm offering historic research in Florence, Alabama


Clinical Professor of the Humanities, Liberal Studies Program/Global Liberal Studies Program, New York University


Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University




University of North Carolina Coordinator for the Black Family Land Trust; Founder of BlackCotton


Assistant Professor/CuratorDepartment of Design and Merchandising/Avenir Museum, Colorado State University


Author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, and the New York Times bestseller Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster


Want to contribute?