The long-abandoned mansions in the old Americo-Liberian town of Harper, Liberia

Harper, situated on Cape Palmas is considered to be one of the traditional hometowns of the Americo-Liberians, descendants of freed slaves from the United States who settled in Liberia and declared it an independent country in 1847.

Today, no place captures the ambiguous world of the Americo-Liberians better than Harper, whose oldest neighborhoods are reminiscent of New Orleans. Once occupied by the ruling elite, houses in the style of plantation mansions now stand silent and ghostly.

Photographer Glenna Gordon, a Southern California native who has traveled in Liberia regularly over the last seven years: “I wanted to explore this tension, and in Harper some of the first freed slaves came and replicated the inequality that they had been subjected to. I sought traces of these systems, the artifacts of American wrongs replicated elsewhere.”

Read more on The Smithsonian.

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