In 2012, at Mirror of Race, Molly Rogers reflected on the Jacques Zealy daguerreotypes of South Carolina slaves (now held by Harvard University).
In the summer of 1976, employees of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology discovered fifteen daguerreotypes in the museum attic. The photographs were made in 1850 and they depict five African men and two African American women, all of whom were slaves in or near Columbia, South Carolina. The names of the people are known—the men are Jack, Jem, Fassena and Alfred, and the women Drana and Delia—as are a few details on the circumstances of their lives. The daguerreotypes are considered to be the earliest known photographs of identifiable American slaves….
…As I examined the photographs, scrutinizing Delia’s body with the aid of a magnifying glass—seeking in her image evidence of maltreatment, of the circumstances under which the image was made, and of her individual character—an unpleasant feeling came over me. Louis Agassiz had commissioned Delia’s photographs after physically examining her. The images were intended to serve as aides-memoire to this ostensibly scientific examination and also as evidence of his findings, which he could show to other people. The photographs were therefore doubly linked to Delia’s violation: they were both the culmination of an invasive examination and a second instance of this objectifying scrutiny. And there I was, examining Delia much as the scientist had done: she was exposed against her will and in her body I sought information, facts, evidence. That the kind of the evidence I hoped to find differed from that of the Swiss naturalist offered little consolation. Ultimately, there was no avoiding the fact that I was regarding Delia as an object and doing so for my own gain…
Some of her conclusions have been challenged in the comments (the author appears to confuse 18th century Dominica with Saint-Domingue), but the images appear to be renderings in the style of Bruinas or Brunias originals of figures devariascolores (black, gradations of mixed-race, and white) in 18th century dress.
The figure in the blue dress on this button, for example…
I edited the text below for the blog-as-media and easier reading. I used formatting to replicate speech patterns, added images and links where appropriate, and included sections I skipped last Friday for the sake of time. Overall, however, I stayed true to the text as shared that day.
You are welcome to reblog, cite, circulate at will. All I ask is you respect the terms of the
African Diaspora, Ph.D. is revisiting scholarship that has shaped the study of people of African descent across time and place.
In 1982, Hull, Scott, and Smith published a compilation of scholarship on the history, condition, and politics of black women in the United States. The works collected in Some of Us Are Bravespoke back to academic and policy research done in the name of black women, and challenged their absence from contemporary black studies and women’s studies curriculum. A groundbreaking interdisciplinary and activist venture, Some of Us Are Brave shaped the way women of African descent in the United States would be studied, organize, and theorize for decades to come.
Gloria T. Hull, Patricia B. Scott, and Barbara Smith, eds. All the Women Are White, and All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies. New York: Feminist Press, 1982.
Bibliographies and a collection of syllabi provide readers with essential classroom materials and a map for further research. Winner of the Outstanding Women of Color Award and the Women Educator’s Curriculum Material Award.
“A clear statement about Black women. Congratulations to the editors for compiling such a fine interdisciplinary volume.”
—Geraldine K. Brookins, Ph.D., Jackson State University
“Exciting! Affirmations and the beginning of a new era, where the ‘women’ in women’s studies will no longer mean ‘white.’”
”This is ‘necessary bread’ for women of all colors. The essays contain not only fact and durable resources, but some of the best writing I’ve seen around.”
“Festival of Our Lady of the Rosary, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ca. 1770s,” from “The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas” [Click]
Duke University students are writing the “Black Atlantic” online courtesy of a course taught by Ian Baucom and Laurent DuBois.
From the syllabus:
“This seminar, open to advanced undergraduate students and graduate students in all disciplines, explores the history and literature of what has come to be known as “The Black Atlantic.” Our goal will be to think through the histories of slavery and emancipation in this Atlantic world and the way they have shaped our politics and culture. Our reading will range widely, including works of history and theory as well as poetry and novels. But we will also explore how visual art, music, and various types of performance condense, transmit, and examine this history. Students in the class will be invited to participate in the “Digital Black Atlantic Project,” a collaboration between Duke, Columbia, and Harvard, which will be exploring innovative ways to use Digital Media to showcase and present scholarship, literature, and artistic production around the theme of the Black Atlantic.”
Students blog reflections over the course of the semester. Posts to date include:
“Race and Nation in the Age of Emancipations: A Symposium on the Atlantic World” seeks to explore the complicated relationship of race, citizenship, and national identity during the tumultuous long nineteenth century. By examining this connection in particular contexts within a broad Atlantic perspective, this symposium will contribute to a better understand of if, how, and why enslaved and free blacks throughout the Americas came to understand themselves as citizens of a particular nation (or possibly multiple nations) during the era of emancipation. Along with several panels focusing on varying aspects of this topic, the symposium will also feature a roundtable on the Atlantic World as a field, analytical concept, and pedagogical tool. Race and Nation is set to take place in Houston, Texas, on Rice University’s campus from February 21-22, 2014. The symposium is made possible thanks to generous funding from Rice University’s School of Humanities, the Department of History, the Humanities Research Center, the Program for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Culture, and the Graduate Student Association.
In 1925 Carter G. Woodson and his Association for the Study of Negro Life and History created Negro History Week. A half century later, during the U.S. bicentennial, this formal period for recognizing African American contributions to our national history was expanded to a month. At that time President Gerald Ford asked Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” During this 2014 celebration of African American History month, Readex is pleased to highlight these five new and recent resources: