Jennifer Morgan discusses Cedric Robinson’s work on Black Marxism and its relationship to histories of slavery at AAIHS:
“Robinson’s work on the early Modern black Atlantic (though he didn’t name it as such) is a crucial provocation to contemporary scholars—and one that is, to some degree, being taken up. In the past ten years, the number of studies of the history of slavery and freedom in the seventeenth and eighteenth century has grown incrementally. Further, scholars of political and cultural history of the Atlantic world are increasingly clear that it is untenable to omit the lives of the enslaved from their focus. However, I am not so confident that Robinson would have seen much of this work as in conversation with his. What he models in these chapters of Black Marxism is a commitment to understanding the enslaved as people with both history and political acumen—people who respond to their enslavement not simply from the visceral space of agony, but from the critical space of power and politics.
“As he concludes his overview of slave revolt in the Americas from the 16th century forward, Robinson writes “the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora had endured an integrating experience that left them not only with a common task but a shared vision.”(166) This is, again to quote Robinson, the contradiction that was the “dialectic of imperialism and liberation.”(166) It is here that I find his work most provocative and, frankly, inspiring. What does it mean to locate the roots of black radicalism in the 16th or 17th century?…”
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