University of Washington history professor Stephanie M. H. Camp passed away on April 2nd. Camp was the author of Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (University of North Carolina Press, 2004, also profiled on #ADPhD here). Camp also edited, with Edward Baptist, New Studies in the History of Slavery (University of Georgia Press, 2006).
Selections from her obituary in The Seattle Times:
“She was a well-known feminist historian who wrote a groundbreaking book on enslaved women in the antebellum South, and a social-justice activist who dared to take controversial stands. But Stephanie Camp was also known for her love of popular culture and her sense of adventure and for hosting great parties.
The University of Washington history professor died April 2 of cancer at the age of 46.
Professor Camp’s book, “Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South,” which is in its second printing, led to a new understanding of how enslaved women resisted their captivity in the 19th century. It was cited not only for the quality of its scholarship but also for the beauty of the writing.
The book “transformed the field of American social history,” said Chandan Reddy, an associate professor of English at the UW….”
The foundations of cultural studies lay in an insistence on taking popular, low-status cultural forms seriously and tracing the interweaving threads of culture, power and politics. Its interdisciplinary perspectives drew on literary theory, linguistics and cultural anthropology in order to analyse subjects as diverse as youth sub-cultures, popular media and gendered and ethnic identities – thus creating something of a model, for example, for the Guardian’s own G2 section.
Hall was always among the first to identify key questions of the age, and routinely sceptical about easy answers. A spellbinding orator and a teacher of enormous influence, he never indulged in academic point-scoring. Hall’s political imagination combined vitality and subtlety; in the field of ideas he was tough, ready to combat positions he believed to be politically dangerous. Yet he was unfailingly courteous, generous towards students, activists, artists, and visitors from across the globe, many of whom came to love him. Hall won accolades from universities worldwide, despite never thinking of himself as a scholar. Universities offered him a base from which he could teach – a source of great pleasure for him – and collaborate with others in public debate…
Read the rest: Stuart Hall obituary | Politics | The Guardian
Rest in power.
Edmund S. Morgan, author of American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia died yesterday at the age of 97.
Professor Morgan’s book “The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop” (1958) was for decades one of the most widely assigned texts in survey courses on American history. His “Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea” (1963) showed his unmatched talent for mining primary sources to illuminate an important concept, in this case the change in understanding among New Englanders of what it meant to be the member of a church.
Professor Morgan later became intrigued by colonial Virginia, a slaveholding society that produced some of America’s most sophisticated theoreticians of human freedom. This paradox was the subject of “American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia” (1975), which won the Francis Parkman Prize in 1976. “Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America” (1988) won the Bancroft Prize in American History in 1989…
We are saddened to report the death of Edmund S. Morgan. Morgan taught at Yale University for much of his career, and served as president of the OAH from 1971-1972. He received the Distinguished Service Award from OAH in 1998…
A review and rereading of American Slavery, American Freedom by Kathleen Brown is available in the 2001 issue of the Commonplace.
May 10, 2013 is France’s national day of remembrance of the slave trade, slavery and their abolition.
In the Winter 2013 issue of Emory Magazine, Emory University President James Wagner suggested the ‘3/5ths compromise’ was “a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration,” move beyond “polarization,” and “facilitated the achievement of what both sides of the debate really aspired to—a new nation.”
Excerpt from original column:
“…One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution—“to form a more perfect union”—the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together…”
Dylan Penningroth (Northwestern U.) has been awarded a 2012 Macarthur “Genius” grant for his work on kinship and property within slave communities in the United States and along the Gold Coast.
From the Macarthur Foundation website:
Dylan C. Penningroth is a historian who examines shifting concepts of property ownership and kinship in order to shed light on long-obscured aspects of African American life under slavery and in the half-century following slavery’s abolition. In his book The Claims of Kinfolk (2003), he elucidates the informal customs that slaves in the antebellum South used to recognize ownership of property, even while they were themselves considered by law to be property at the time. He also traces the interactions of these extra-legal, vernacular customs with the formal realm of law after emancipation by teasing stories of claims and disputes from such sources as the Freedman’s Bureau and Southern Claims Commission records compiled by the federal government after the Civil War. In addition to demonstrating that ownership of land, livestock, and other material possessions was much more widespread among slave communities than previously believed, Penningroth’s research draws out the underlying social relations and reliance on family members’ labor that made such ownership possible. To broaden the scope of his study, Penningroth extended his investigation across the Atlantic to Africa’s Gold Coast and found informative historical connections among societies that dealt with legacies of slavery and emancipation in the late nineteenth century. His current projects expand upon this transatlantic approach, exploring the importance of lineage and issues of inheritance for slave-descended people in early twentieth-century Ghana and mining Southern court records to uncover the experiences of African Americans who made use of local courts during the decades that followed emancipation. By compiling evidence from vast and widely scattered archives, Penningroth is painting a more vivid picture of relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, and illuminating the ways communities of slaves and their descendents recognized what belonged to whom….
Other recipients included Junot Diaz and Dinaw Mengestu. Read more about the Macarthur Grant and find the bios for the rest of the 2012 class here.
Colin Dayan recently received a Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Award for her research and book The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons (Princeton University Press, 2011), which was selected by Choice as one of top 25 books for 2011…
Description (excerpt): Moving seamlessly across genres and disciplines, Dayan considers legal practices and spiritual beliefs from medieval England, the North American colonies, and the Caribbean that have survived in our legal discourse, and she explores the civil deaths of felons and slaves through lawful repression. Tracing the legacy of slavery in the United States in the structures of the contemporary American prison system and in the administrative detention of ghostly supermax facilities, she also demonstrates how contemporary jurisprudence regarding cruel and unusual punishment prepared the way for abuses in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.
“As stated in the Times piece, genealogists from Ancestry.com said they have evidence that “strongly suggests” that through his white mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, President Obama had an enslaved ancestor in the 17th century named John Punch: “In 1640, Mr. Punch, then an indentured servant, escaped from Virginia and went to Maryland. He was captured there and, along with two white servants who had also escaped, was put on trial. His punishment — servitude for life — was harsher than what the white servants received, and it has led some historians to regard him as the first African to be legally sanctioned as a slave, years before Virginia adopted laws allowing slavery.
We should immediately note, though, that the word “slave” was rarely used in documents generated in Virginia in 1640 — at least, not in the legal sense of a condition of constant and inheritable servitude. Africans were, however, usually identified in documents as “negroes.” In fact, this was by far the most common term for people of African descent in Virginia records…..
…When John Punch was captured as a runaway with two white servants, the court extended his term of service to lifelong. In this case, the court made a definitive decision only about his length of service, but the other Africans may well have had to serve for life before him, lacking the contract needed to be guaranteed freedom. In their cases, the terms were irregular and determined by their masters….”