EDITED: Curry, Duke, and Smith on New Histories of the Black Diaspora

Dawne Y. Curry,, Eric D. Duke, and Marshanda A. Smith, eds. Extending the Diaspora: New Histories of Black People. 1st ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

From University of Illinois Press:

This groundbreaking collection addresses both new and familiar topics with fresh perspectives to produce original and thought-provoking scholarship on the diasporic histories of black people. Through a variety of methodologies and theoretical constructs, the contributors plumb a wide range of localities to engage many important subjects, including slavery and emancipation, transnational and diasporic experiences, social and political activism, and political and cultural identity. In doing so, they offer insightful and thought provoking studies, highlight new areas of inquiry in the African diaspora, and in many cases transcend geographical and national boundaries. The probing and meticulously woven narratives of this collection combine to show the vibrant histories of people of African descent.

Contributors are Iris Berger, John Campbell, Afua Cooper, Dawne Y. Curry, Eric D. Duke, Fatima El-Tayeb, Stephen G. Hall, Joel T. Helfrich, Beatriz G. Mamigonian, Yuichiro Onishi, Cassandra Pybus, Micol Seigel, Marshanda A. Smith, and Matthew J. Smith.

ARTICLE: Undurraga on Slaves’ Use of Honor in Chile

Carolina González Undurraga, “Los usos del honor por esclavos y esclavas: del cuerpo injuriado al cuerpo liberado (Chile, 1750-1823),” Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos [En línea], Coloquios, Puesto en línea el 10 septiembre 2012, consultado el 08 octubre 2012. URL : http://nuevomundo.revues.org/2869.

(English) Abstract:

This paper tries to explain one of the strategies used by slaves – men or women – and their families when they asked formal justice to be freed or sold : honour. Slaves strategically reinterpreted codes of honor in order to give them cultural legitimacy. We can assume that the body is the privileged place for honor in the slave population, as the violation of their rights, which is interpreted as a violation of their bodies, usually affects the body. Body’s wounds then help to support the accusations against the master for bad treatment, and become one of the principal arguments for selling and for freedom requests.

Available at Nuevo Mundos/Mundos Nuevos.

CFP: Graduate Student/Junior Scholar Workshop on “Black Freedom in the Atlantic World”

Vanderbilt University Workshop
“The Age of Emancipation: Black Freedom in the Atlantic World”
April 26-27, 2013
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

Vanderbilt University’s Sawyer Seminar “The Age of Emancipation:  Black Freedom in the Atlantic World” invites applications from senior graduate students and junior scholars to participate in a two day workshop on the topic.  The workshop will provide a setting for participants to present their work in an interdisciplinary setting.
Applications must be submitted by December 15, 2012.  For more information, see our website:  http://vanderbilt.edu/rpw_center.

Hillery Pate
Activities Coordinator | Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities
Vanderbilt University
PMB 351534 | 2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235
Phone 615.343.6240 | Fax 615.343.2248

BOOK: Vazquez on Free People of Color and Revolt in Cuba

Michele Reid-Vazquez. The Year of the Lash: Free People of Color in Cuba and the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

From University of Georgia Press:

At dawn on June 29, 1844, a firing squad in Havana executed ten accused ringleaders of the Conspiracy of La Escalera, an alleged plot to abolish slavery and colonial rule in Cuba. The condemned men represented prominent members of Cuba’s free community of African descent, including the acclaimed poet Plácido (Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés). In an effort to foster a white majority and curtail black rebellion, Spanish colonial authorities also banished, imprisoned, and exiled hundreds of free blacks, dismantled the militia of color, and accelerated white immigration projects.

Scholars have debated the existence of the Conspiracy of La Escalera for over a century, yet little is known about how those targeted by the violence responded. Drawing on archival material from Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, Reid-Vazquez provides a critical window into under­standing how free people of color challenged colonial policies of terror and pursued justice on their own terms using formal and extralegal methods. Whether rooted in Cuba or cast into the Atlantic World, free men and women of African descent stretched and broke colonial expectations of their codes of conduct locally and in exile. Their actions underscored how black agency, albeit fragmented, worked to destabilize repression’s impact.

ESSAY: Hahn on the “Legacy Of Eugene Genovese”

“Yet no book of Genovese’s has had the impact of Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1974). A long, complex, almost Hegelian treatment of the master-slave relation – and of the dynamics of power that were embedded within it – Roll, Jordan, Roll is a study of intense struggle, unfolding over decades, that enabled slaveholders to establish political and cultural hegemony but also enabled slaves to claim basic rights for themselves and room for their communities. At the book’s center is slave religion, at once a concession to the cultural authority of the masters and a celebration of the slaves’ solidarity, spirituality, and destiny–a measure of the contradictory character of the slave regime. Replete with comparative and international references, political allusions, and literary flourishes, Roll, Jordan, Roll may well be the finest work on slavery ever produced.

But it, along with the rest of Genovese’s early work, had serious critics, especially on the left. While acknowledging his analytical skills, many felt that Genovese was too admiring of the slaveholders’ power and too dismissive of the slaves’ rebelliousness; too interested in class and not sufficiently interested in race; too focused on the pre-capitalist features of southern society and the paternalist ethos of the masters; and too blind to the capitalist impulses of an intensely commodified world….”

Read the rest: From Radical To Right-Wing: The Legacy Of Eugene Genovese | The New Republic.

NEWS: Dylan Penningroth Wins 2012 Macarthur “Genius” Grant

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 MengestuRead more about the Macarthur Grant and find the bios for the rest of the 2012 class here.