Blair L. M. Kelley writes:
David T. Gleeson and Simon Lewis, eds. Ambiguous Anniversary: The Bicentennial of the International Slave Trade Bans. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012.
In March 1807, within a few weeks of each other, both the United States and the United Kingdom passed laws banning the international slave trade. Two hundred years later, Great Britain, an instigator of the slave trade and the chief source of slaves sold into continental North America, was awash nationwide in commemorations of the ban. By contrast the bicentennial
of the ban received almost no attention in the United States. Ambiguous Anniversary aims to remedy that omission and to explain the discrepancy between the two commemorative responses. Edited by David T. Gleeson and Simon Lewis, this volume examines the impact that closing the international slave trade in 1808 had on Southern American economics, politics,
Recasting the history of slavery in the early Republic and the memory of slavery and abolition in American culture, the foreword, introduction, and ten essays in this volume present a complex picture of an important but partial step in America’s long struggle toward the ambitious but ambiguous goal of liberty and justice for all….
“This interview with the black Atlantic writer Caryl Phillips focuses on his non-fiction works and interrogates his ideas on the African diaspora and memorialisation, paying particular attention to such locales as African slave forts and European museums. It also discusses his latest work – a play about the 1940s friendship between Richard Wright and C.L.R. James. The interview discusses the long view of memorialisation on the transatlantic slave trade and interrogates the importance of the bicentenary celebrations of the abolition of the trade in Britain in 2007 to new structures of feeling and curriculum developments that have made the issues raised by the slave trade and its aftermath more central to British historiography. A final section discusses African diaspora communities and their challenge to find a home space amidst the detritus of slavery. Phillips discusses the importance of a slave manilla in his quest for an anchor for memory.”
This special issue of Atlantic Studies, “The Slave Trade’s Dissonant Heritage: Memorial Sites, Museum Practices, and Dark Tourism,” included articles by Alan Rice, Johanna C. Kardux, Lubaina Hamid, Charles Forsdick, Marian Gwyn, Anne Eichmann, and Senam Okudzeto.
From The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe website:
The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe project uses database technology to map the trade of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel (STN), a celebrated Swiss publishing house that operated between 1769 and 1794.
As the STN sold the works of other publishers alongside its own editions, their archives can be considered a representative source for studying the history of the book trade and dissemination of ideas in the late Enlightenment.
Using state of the art database, web interface and GIS technology, the project provides a user-friendly resource for use by scholars, teachers and students of French literature and history, book history, the Enlightenment and bibliography more generally…
“More than forty years after the major victories of the civil rights movement, African Americans have a vexed relation to the civic myth of the United States as the land of equal opportunity and justice for all. In Sites of Slavery Salamishah Tillet examines how contemporary African American artists and intellectuals—including Annette Gordon-Reed, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Bill T. Jones, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kara Walker—turn to the subject of slavery in order to understand and challenge the ongoing exclusion of African Americans from the founding narratives of the United States. She explains how they reconstruct “sites of slavery”—contested figures, events, memories, locations, and experiences related to chattel slavery—such as the allegations of a sexual relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the characters Uncle Tom and Topsy in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, African American tourism to slave forts in Ghana and Senegal, and the legal challenges posed by reparations movements. By claiming and recasting these sites of slavery, contemporary artists and intellectuals provide slaves with an interiority and subjectivity denied them in American history, register the civic estrangement experienced by African Americans in the post–civil rights era, and envision a more fully realized American democracy.”
DUP has posted the first chapter using Scribd. Read it here.
Discussions about slavery continue to stir emotions. This exhibition examines the journeys experienced by enslaved Africans brought to the United States. From the journey into bondage, travels while enslaved, and escaping to freedom, voyages — forced and voluntary — shaped the way slavery evolved and, ultimately, ended in America.
ACLS Mellon Fellow Jonathan Levy discusses the failure of the Freedman Savings and Trust Company at the Library of Congress:
In 1865, Congress chartered the non-profit “Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company,” a savings bank designed for a population of four million newly emancipated American slaves. By 1873, it had received a staggering $50,000,000 in deposits. But the banking house Jay Cooke & Co. was charged with investing the freedpeople’s savings, and when Jay Cooke & Co. failed during the panic of 1873, so did the Freedman’s Bank. Liberated from their former masters, the freedpeople had very suddenly come face to face with the frenzied finance of the Gilded Age.
View it here.
For those of us who work with historical photographs (particularly images from the nineteenth century, when the medium was still in its infancy) there are few things more thrilling than stumbling on an image we didn’t know existed. But finding and then identifying historical photographs with any certainty, particularly the subjects in them, is tricky business. Retrieving the story behind the image—who took it, of whom, and why—can often be near impossible.
So I was surprised last week to see an AP story about a “rare” photograph of slave children. The accompanying image—purportedly of two boys, either enslaved or just recently freed, from North Carolina taken in the 1860s dressed in ragged clothes, seated on a wooden barrel, posed for the camera—intrigued me for several reasons. For one, my own reading of the image was quite different from what was described in the wire article and subsequent reports (recent sleuthing by collectors supports my suspicions, as I’ll explain). Second, the eagerness to accept the authenticity of this image as a reflection of daily life in the South in this era is based on, at best, a shallow reading of the history of black children in the photography of this period. Finally, the shock the image of “slave children” seemed to give reporters and readers, and even some experts, makes it clear that the picture of antebellum slavery most people hold in their heads is an outdated one. If they imagine Southern plantations were sustained largely by the sweat and blood by enslaved adults, the work of recent historians has brought another view to light, one in which young people made up the majority of the enslaved…
Read the rest at the History News Network: Portrait or Postcard? The Controversy over a “Rare” Photograph of Slave Children.
“ANNAPOLIS, Md. AP — It is slow, deliberate, frustrating, yet fulfilling work trying to preserve a peoples culture.Vicki Lee, senior conservator at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, already has made two trips with teams of experts trying to mend Haitis cultural heritage following the devastating January earthquake, and is itching to return.
“It’s so sad,” she said in an interview at her office off Rowe Boulevard after returning from the stricken island nation about two weeks ago. “There is so much work to do. We need thousands more people to do it.”
On the other hand, the Chesapeake Beach resident and her colleagues — who have made trips to Haiti under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute for Conservation‘s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) — see cause for hope.
“I think the chances for recovery are quite good, but it will take a lot of time,” said Hugh Shockey, an object conservator at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum who worked on the same team as Lee.
“To be quite honest, what gives me the most amount of hope is that the Haitians were recovering materials from the rubble rather than just throwing them out,” Mr. Shockey said. “They saved what they could. If I am going to put the pieces back together, I have to have the pieces.”
He said it is evident the Haitian people clearly value their cultural material.
“It could have all been scooped up by a bulldozer and sent on a truck to be dumped,” Mr. Shockey said….”
Read the rest at the Washington Times.