Slavery and History: The Material of Black Lives and How We Interpret the Past
This seminar discusses historical methods for piecing together the history of slavery in the Atlantic world from the late-17th to mid-19th centuries. It will focus particular attention to British Caribbean slavery, its origins and growth, and look closely at how historians negotiate and work with an archive in which enslaved people are found in fragments. Using examples from my recent work on enslaved women in urban Barbados, we will explore how to read, interpret, and make narratives from records and documents in which enslaved people are listed as property, criminals, and commodities, and think about an ethical historical practice that pushes back on the power of colonial language and ideas. Along with providing a solid historical overview of the major themes in Atlantic slavery, this seminar will consider gender and the enslaved experience and feature “hands-on” work with documents relating to this topic and we will discuss our historical practices related to such materials.