BLOG: Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina (2010)

Faithful Slave Monument, Mebane. Photo courtesy of Adam Domby as seen on http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/features/essays/ray_wise/
Faithful Slave Monument, Mebane. Photo courtesy of Adam Domby as seen on http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/features/essays/ray_wise/

 

Johnston, Angelina Ray, and Wise, Robinson. “Commemorating Faithful Slaves, Mammies, and Black Confederates.” Blog. Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, March 19, 2010. http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/features/essays/ray_wise/.

“…Anxious to refute any suggestion that slavery had required the dehumanization of African Americans, white Southerners recalled their enslaved caretakers as willing “servants” who had been content, even grateful, for their lot in life. These commemorative gestures, which only hinted at the complex relationship that existed between slaveholders and slaves, served to legitimize white privilege and inform blacks of their “proper” place during the Jim Crow era. Simultaneously, some African Americans exploited the image of the “faithful slave” by pointedly reminding whites who railed against black criminality and fecklessness that blacks had been trustworthy in the past and, in fact, remained so. Even today, recent efforts to commemorate so-called “Black Confederates,” or slaves who allegedly fought on behalf of the Confederacy, demonstrate the continuing contests over acknowledging the historical complexities of American slavery….”

First published here (2010) and republished here (2013) in four installments.

Featured Image: [Susie Sharpe Family]” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. As seen here: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/nc_post/id/774/rec/8

Online Now! “Death Rites as Birthrights in Atlantic New Orleans” by Me (@jmjafrx)

Diaspora Hypertext, the Blog (Archived)

VERY EXCITED to announce this….

My journal article, “Death Rites as Birthrights in Atlantic New Orleans: Kinship and Race in the Case of María Teresa v. Perine Dauphine,” is in the next issue of Slavery & Abolition…and it is LIVE online RIGHT NOW at Taylor & Francis.

Jessica Marie Johnson, “Death Rites as Birthrights in Atlantic New Orleans: Kinship and Race in the Case of María Teresa v. Perine Dauphine.” Slavery & Abolition (published online September 25, 2014): 1–24. doi:10.1080/0144039X.2014.943931.

Abstract:

“In 1789, a New Orleans free woman of colour named María Teresa initiated legal proceedings against Pelagia ‘Perine’ Dauphine dit Demasillier, another free woman of colour living in the city. More than a question of inheritance, the case of María Tereza, grifa libre v. Perine Demasillier, mulata libre was a dispute between two women over the meanings of and obligations to family in late eighteenth-century New Orleans. Their…

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TALK: The Race for Digitality | Roopika Risam

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At African Diaspora 2.0, Roopika Risam of #DHPoco: Postcolonial Digital Humanities discussed the tension between digital humanities and African diaspora studies.

An excerpt:

“…In the race for digitality, we find ourselves struggling to understand the relationship between our deep investments in discourses like intersectional feminism or critical race theory and digital humanities. The burden of representation falls on us. Our acts of representation should not be bids for power but for what [Barbara] Christian would call the need to become empowered – “seeing oneself as capable and having the right to determine one’s life” (61). At stake for us is not power in the putative hierarchies of digital humanities, rather the empowerment that our work on the African diaspora can effect.

To empower – ourselves, a new generation of scholars, diasporic subjects – we need to embrace multiplicity and the specificities of diaspora. We must answer Christian’s question, “For whom are we doing what we are doing?” (61) to make legible all our scholarship has to offer. This is, in part, a question of method – which tools do we use? We may recall Audre Lorde’s statement “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” which comes up often in critiques of digital humanities, but we must not mistake the master. It’s not digital humanities – it’s the effects of white supremacy on knowledge production. That’s where we are called to intervene. But how…”

Read the rest –  The Race for Digitality | Roopika Risam.

For more on African Diaspora 2.0 Symposium hosted by the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University, click here.

Interview: The Colonial Art of Demonizing Others | The UCSB Current

H/T – The Repeating Islands

Andrea Estrada interviews Esther Lezra on her new book The Colonial Art of Demonizing Others (Routledge, 2014):

“It was important to show that the representational patterns that we use today are inheritors of an early representational rhetoric that was intrinsically tied up with material violence and injustice endured by peoples who were subjected to empire and colonialism,” Lezra said. She chose this particular period, she noted, “because it represents a time when the practice, theory and documentation of the empire — along with the tropes that represent the empire — became crystallized.”

The book focuses on materials of distinct yet related sociopolitical and linguistic archives of England and Surinam, Spain and the Americas, France and the Antilles, and the U.S. and Iraq.

“While the book enters into a series of preexisting scholarly conversations about colonialism, empire and postcoloniality, what distinguishes it is the variety of written and archives, languages and geopolitical spaces it moves through in order to make the argument,” Lezra explained. “At the same time, it reveals the ways in which the dominant colonial archive represented non-European people as monstrous and how it reluctantly registered the power and freedom-seeking agency of suppressed populations.”

Read the rest The Colonial Art of Demonizing Others | The UCSB Current.

 

SOURCE: Controversial Literature in The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society | Readex

“The September release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922, contains many documents categorized as “controversial literature.” This bibliographical term describes works that argue against or express opposition to individual religious and monastic orders, individual religions, individual Christian denominations, and sacred works. Unsurprisingly, much of the controversy in the following documents surrounds Biblical interpretations of the institution of slavery…”

Controversial Literature in The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society | Readex.

AUDIO: Berry and Harris on Urban Slavery | 15 Minute History

 

Caption: Sale of Slaves at Charleston, South Carolina. In The Illustrated London News (Nov. 29, 1856), vol. 29, p. 555. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library) as shown on www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. (Click image for details)
Caption: Sale of Slaves at Charleston, South Carolina. In The Illustrated London News (Nov. 29, 1856), vol. 29, p. 555. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library) as shown on http://www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. (Click image for details)

 

Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie Brown discuss urban slavery in the United States on 15 Minute History:

“When most people think about slavery in the United States, they think of large agricultural plantations and picture slaves working in the fields harvesting crops. But for a significant number of slaves, their experience involved working in houses, factories, and on the docks of the South’s booming cities. Urban slavery, as it has come to be known, is often overlooked in the annals of slave experience.

This week’s guests Daina Ramey Berry, from UT’s Department of History, and Leslie Harris, from Emory University, have spent the past year collaborating on a new study aimed at re-discovering this forgotten aspect of slave experience in the United States.”

Listen to the podcast and read the transcript here: Episode 54: Urban Slavery in the Antebellum United States | 15 Minute History.

Baptist on What Whites Refuse to Believe About Slavery | The Guardian

“In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a fugitive from slavery, joined dozens of white passengers on the British ship Cambria in New York harbor. Somewhere out on the Atlantic, the other passengers discovered that the African American activist in their midst had just published a sensational autobiography. They convinced the captain to host a sort of salon, wherein Douglass would tell them his life story. But when the young black man stood up to talk, a group of Southern slaveholders, on their way to Britain for vacation or business or both, confronted him. Every time Douglass said something about what it was like to be enslaved, they shouted him down: Lies! Lies! Slaves were treated well, insisted the slaveholders; after all, they said, the masters remained financially interested in the health of their human “property”.

In a review of my book about slavery and capitalism published the other day, the Economist treated it the same way that the tourist enslavers treated the testimony of Frederick Douglass on that slave-era ship long ago. In doing so, the Economist revealed just how many white people remain reluctant to believe black people about the experience of being black.

Apparently, I shouldn’t have focused my historical research on how some people lived off the uncompensated sweat of their “valuable property”, the magazine’s anonymous reviewer wrote: “Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains.” Worst of all, this book reviewer went on, I had, by putting the testimony of “a few slaves” at the heart of book about slavery, somehow abandoned “objectivity”’ for “advocacy”….”

Read the rest: Edward Baptist | The Economist’s review of my book reveals how white people still refuse to believe black people about being black | The Guardian

Baptist On “What the Economist Doesn’t Get About Slavery” in POLITICO Magazine

“We think of authors as people who lay themselves bare in their books, but perhaps reviewers of books reveal their innermost fears and beliefs as well. That can be true even when—as in the distinguished British periodical the Economist, founded in 1843—the reviewers hide behind anonymity. When Mr./Ms. Anonymous of the Economist reviewed my book The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism on Sept. 4, they didn’t much care for it, and that didn’t surprise me. In the last couple of decades, the Economist and its suspender-wearing core readers have usually been reliable allies of market fundamentalism—the idea that everything would be better if measured first and last by its efficiency at producing profit. I, on the other hand, argue in the book that U.S. cotton slavery created—and still taints—the modern capitalist economy which the Economist sometimes seems to prescribe as the cure for all ills. I’d like to think we all agree that slavery was evil. If slavery was profitable—and it was—then it creates an unforgiving paradox for the moral authority of markets—and market fundamentalists. What else, today, might be immoral and yet profitable?”

Read the rest: Edward Baptist | What the Economist Doesn’t Get About Slavery – POLITICO Magazine.