In Black Bodies, White Gold Anna Arabindan-Kesson uses cotton, a commodity central to the slave trade and colonialism, as a focus for new interpretations of the way art, commerce, and colonialism were intertwined in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world. In doing so, Arabindan-Kesson models an art historical approach that makes the histories of the Black diaspora central to nineteenth-century cultural production. She traces the emergence of a speculative vision that informs perceptions of Blackness in which artistic renderings of cotton—as both commodity and material—became inexorably tied to the monetary value of Black bodies. From the production and representation of “negro cloth”—the textile worn by enslaved plantation workers—to depictions of Black sharecroppers in photographs and paintings, Arabindan-Kesson demonstrates that visuality was the mechanism through which Blackness and cotton became equated as resources for extraction. In addition to interrogating the work of nineteenth-century artists, she engages with contemporary artists such as Hank Willis Thomas, Lubaina Himid, and Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, who contend with the commercial and imperial processes shaping constructions of Blackness and meanings of labor.
Given the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the growing strength of global capitalism, the deindustrialization of wealthy nations, and new academic fashions, class relations are often considered an obsolete mode of historical analysis. Yet unprecedented levels of material inequality and class fragmentation continue to plague both the wealthier and the poorer parts of the world. Addressing this fundamental disconnect between contemporary historical scholarship and reality, Class Analysis in Early America and the Atlantic World, a special issue of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, offers a reevaluation of the potential and future of class analysis in scholarly work, particularly as it relates to increasing the understanding of the popular struggle in the early modern Atlantic world, a struggle that lies at the heart of many of today’s class-related dilemmas.
Assembling essays written by three generations of labor historians, each with markedly different approaches to the labor histories of early America and the Atlantic world, this issue offers unique insights into the evolution of class analysis and its shifting place in the field of labor history. In one essay, a renowned member of the first generation of “new social historians” reflects on his work, considering the past and future of class analysis while highlighting some of his current views about class in early America. In other essays, a new generation of scholars enriches scholarship on early America and the Atlantic by incorporating complex and nuanced discussions of race and gender into traditional class analyses. Perhaps signaling the future of the field, another essay discusses the theoretical foundations and implications of a globalized mode of historical class analysis, examining the complicated connections among peoples in Europe, Africa, and North America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the impact these connections had in shaping early America and the Atlantic world.
How colonial categories of race and religion together created identities and hierarchies that today are vehicles for multicultural nationalism and social critique in the Caribbean and its diasporas.
When the British Empire abolished slavery, Caribbean sugar plantation owners faced a labor shortage. To solve the problem, they imported indentured “coolie” laborers, Hindus and a minority Muslim population from the Indian subcontinent. Indentureship continued from 1838 until its official end in 1917. The Deepest Dye begins on post-emancipation plantations in the West Indies—where Europeans, Indians, and Africans intermingled for work and worship—and ranges to present-day England, North America, and Trinidad, where colonial-era legacies endure in identities and hierarchies that still shape the post-independence Caribbean and its contemporary diasporas.
Aisha Khan focuses on the contested religious practices of obeah and Hosay, which are racialized as “African” and “Indian” despite the diversity of their participants. Obeah, a catch-all Caribbean term for sub-Saharan healing and divination traditions, was associated in colonial society with magic, slave insurrection, and fraud. This led to anti-obeah laws, some of which still remain in place. Hosay developed in the West Indies from Indian commemorations of the Islamic mourning ritual of Muharram. Although it received certain legal protections, Hosay’s mass gatherings, processions, and mock battles provoked fears of economic disruption and labor unrest that led to criminalization by colonial powers. The proper observance of Hosay was debated among some historical Muslim communities and continues to be debated now.
In a nuanced study of these two practices, Aisha Khan sheds light on power dynamics through religious and racial identities formed in the context of colonialism in the Atlantic world, and shows how today these identities reiterate inequalities as well as reinforce demands for justice and recognition.
Francis J. Bremer has spent his entire career broadening our understanding of America's colonial founders. Now, in this eminently readable collection of biographies, Bremer brings us a surprisingly varied and dynamic group of characters who continue to guide and influence America today. With its cast of magistrates, women, clergy, merchants, and Native Americans, First Founders underscores the breadth of early American experience and the profound transatlantic roots of our country's forebears. Bremer succeeds in bringing little-known figures out of the shadows, while allowing us to appreciate better known figures in an entirely new light.
This is a truly fascinating look at the Puritans with keenly drawn portraits and the insight that only a lifetime of scholarship can achieve. It should become the standard introduction to the field. Written in the mold of Joseph Ellis's Founding Brothers and Gordon Wood's Revolutionary Characters, the book will appeal to general readers, students, and scholars alike.
While the literature on Atlantic history is vast and flourishing, few studies have examined the importance of inland settlements to the survival of Atlantic ports. This book explores the symbiotic yet conflicted relationships that bound the Mexican cities of Xalapa and Veracruz to the larger Atlantic world and considers the impact these affiliations had on communication and, ultimately, the formation of national identity.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, despite its inland location, Xalapa became an important Atlantic community as it came to represent both a haven and a place of fortification for residents of Veracruz. Yellow fever, foreign invasion, and domestic discord drove thousands of residents of Veracruz, as well as foreign travelers, to seek refuge in Xalapa. At the same time, these adverse circumstances prompted the Mexican government to use Xalapa as a bulwark against threats originating in the Atlantic.
The influence of the Atlantic world thus stretched far into central Mexico, thanks to both the instability of the coastal region and the desire of government officials to “protect” central Mexico from volatile Atlantic imports. The boundaries established at Xalapa, however, encouraged goods, information, and people to collect in the city and thereby immerse the population in the developments of the Atlantic sphere. Thus, in seeking to protect the center of the country, government authorities more firmly situated Xalapa in the Atlantic world. This connection would be trumped by national affiliation only when native residents of Xalapa became more comfortable with their participation in the Mexican public sphere later in the nineteenth century.
The interdisciplinary and comparative nature of this study will make it appeal to those studying Atlantic history, including historians of Britain, the United States, Latin America, and Africa, as well as those studying communication, print culture, and postal history more broadly.
This groundbreaking collection provides the first comparative history of gender and emancipation in the Atlantic world. Bringing together essays on the United States, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, West Africa and South Africa, and the Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean, it shows that emancipation was a profoundly gendered process, produced through connections between race, gender, sexuality, and class. Contributors from the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, and Brazil explore how the processes of emancipation involved the re-creation of gender identities—the production of freedmen and freedwomen with different rights, responsibilities, and access to citizenship.
Offering detailed analyses of slave emancipation in specific societies, the contributors discuss all of the diverse actors in emancipation: slaves, abolitionists, free people of color, state officials, and slave owners. Whether considering the construction of a postslavery masculine subjectivity in Jamaica, the work of two white U.S. abolitionist women with the Freedmen’s Bureau after the Civil War, freedwomen’s negotiations of labor rights in Puerto Rico, slave women’s contributions to the slow unraveling of slavery in French West Africa, or the ways that Brazilian abolitionists deployed representations of femininity as virtuous and moral, these essays demonstrate the gains that a gendered approach offers to understanding the complex processes of emancipation. Some chapters also explore theories and methodologies that enable a gendered reading of postslavery archives. The editors’ substantial introduction traces the reasons for and patterns of women’s and men’s different experiences of emancipation throughout the Atlantic world.
Contributors. Martha Abreu, Sheena Boa, Bridget Brereton, Carol Faulkner, Roger Kittleson, Martin Klein, Melanie Newton, Diana Paton, Sue Peabody, Richard Roberts, Ileana M. Rodriguez-Silva, Hannah Rosen, Pamela Scully, Mimi Sheller, Marek Steedman, Michael Zeuske
In the South, colonialism threw together three peoples who each played important roles in the creation of a new kind of society. Making an Atlantic World explores how Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans understood the landscapes they inhabited and how, after contact, their views of the world had to accommodate and then accept the presence of the others.
Based on the notion of “founding peoples” rather than “founding fathers,” Making an Atlantic World uses an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to interpret the Colonial South. James Taylor Carson uses historical ethnogeography-a new methodology that brings together the study of history, anthropology, and geography. This method seeks to incorporate concepts of space and landscape with social perspectives to give students and scholars a better understanding of the forces that shaped the development of a synthesized southern culture.
Unlike previous studies, which considered colonization as a contest over land but rarely considered what the land was and how people understood their relationships to it, Making an Atlantic World shows how the founding peoples perceived their world before contact and how they responded to contact and colonization.
The author contends that each of the three groups involved-the first people, the invading people, and the enslaved people-possessed a particular worldview that they had to adapt to each other to face the challenges brought about by contact.
James Taylor Carson is associate professor of history at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. He is the author of <i>Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Prehistory to Removal</i>. His articles and reviews have appeared in <i>Ethnohistory, Journal of Mississippi History, Agricultural History, Journal of Military History</i>, and other publications.
Plants seldom figure in the grand narratives of war, peace, or even everyday life yet they are often at the center of high intrigue. In the eighteenth century, epic scientific voyages were sponsored by European imperial powers to explore the natural riches of the New World, and uncover the botanical secrets of its people. Bioprospectors brought back medicines, luxuries, and staples for their king and country. Risking their lives to discover exotic plants, these daredevil explorers joined with their sponsors to create a global culture of botany.
But some secrets were unearthed only to be lost again. In this moving account of the abuses of indigenous Caribbean people and African slaves, Schiebinger describes how slave women brewed the "peacock flower" into an abortifacient, to ensure that they would bear no children into oppression. Yet, impeded by trade winds of prevailing opinion, knowledge of West Indian abortifacients never flowed into Europe. A rich history of discovery and loss, Plants and Empire explores the movement, triumph, and extinction of knowledge in the course of encounters between Europeans and the Caribbean populations.
Rebecca's Revival is the remarkable story of a Caribbean woman--a slave turned evangelist--who helped inspire the rise of black Christianity in the Atlantic world. All but unknown today, Rebecca Protten left an enduring influence on African-American religion and society. Born in 1718, Protten had a childhood conversion experience, gained her freedom from bondage, and joined a group of German proselytizers from the Moravian Church. She embarked on an itinerant mission, preaching to hundreds of the enslaved Africans of St. Thomas, a Danish sugar colony in the West Indies. Laboring in obscurity and weathering persecution from hostile planters, Protten and other black preachers created the earliest African Protestant congregation in the Americas.
Protten's eventful life--the recruiting of converts, an interracial marriage, a trial on charges of blasphemy and inciting of slaves, travels to Germany and West Africa--placed her on the cusp of an emerging international Afro-Atlantic evangelicalism. Her career provides a unique lens on this prophetic movement that would soon sweep through the slave quarters of the Caribbean and North America, radically transforming African-American culture.
Jon Sensbach has pieced together this forgotten life of a black visionary from German, Danish, and Dutch records, including letters in Protten's own hand, to create an astounding tale of one woman's freedom amidst the slave trade. Protten's life, with its evangelical efforts on three continents, reveals the dynamic relations of the Atlantic world and affords great insight into the ways black Christianity developed in the New World.
This unique interdisciplinary essay collection offers a fresh perspective on the active involvement of American women authors in the nineteenth-century transatlantic world. Internationally diverse contributors explore topics ranging from women's social and political mobility to their authorship and activism. While a number of essays focus on such well-known writers as Margaret Fuller, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Eliot, Louisa May Alcott, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, other, perhaps lesser-known authors are also included, such as E. D. E. N. Southworth, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Elizabeth Peabody, Jeannette Hart, and Laura Richards.
These essays show the spectrum of interests and activities in which nineteenth-century women were involved as they moved, geographically and metaphorically, toward gaining their independence and the right to control their lives. Traveling far and wide—to Italy, France, Great Britain, and the Bahamas—these writers came into contact with realities far different from their own. On topics ranging from homeopathy and literary endeavors to politics and revolution, they conversed with others, reaching and inspiring transnational audiences with their words and deeds, and creating a space for self-expression in the rapidly changing transatlantic world.
In the nineteenth century, Latin America was home to the majority of the world's democratic republics. Many historians have dismissed these political experiments as corrupt pantomimes of governments of Western Europe and the United States. Challenging that perspective, James E. Sanders contends that Latin America in this period was a site of genuine political innovation and popular debate reflecting Latin Americans' visions of modernity. Drawing on archival sources in Mexico, Colombia, and Uruguay, Sanders traces the circulation of political discourse and democratic practice among urban elites, rural peasants, European immigrants, slaves, and freed blacks to show how and why ideas of liberty, democracy, and universalism gained widespread purchase across the region, mobilizing political consciousness and solidarity among diverse constituencies. In doing so, Sanders reframes the locus and meaning of political and cultural modernity.
The plebeians of Buenos Aires were crucial to the success of the revolutionary junta of May 1810, widely considered the start of the Argentine war of independence. Workshop of Revolution is a historical account of the economic and political forces that propelled the artisans, free laborers, and slaves of Buenos Aires into the struggle for independence. Drawing on extensive archival research in Argentina and Spain, Lyman L. Johnson portrays the daily lives of Buenos Aires plebeians in unprecedented detail. In so doing, he demonstrates that the world of Spanish colonial plebeians can be recovered in reliable and illuminating ways. Johnson analyzes the demographic and social contexts of plebeian political formation and action, considering race, ethnicity, and urban population growth, as well as the realms of work and leisure. During the two decades prior to 1810, Buenos Aires came to be thoroughly integrated into Atlantic commerce. Increased flows of immigrants from Spain and slaves from Africa and Brazil led to a decline in real wages and the collapse of traditional guilds. Laborers and artisans joined militias that defended the city against British invasions in 1806 and 1807, and they defeated a Spanish loyalist coup attempt in 1809. A gravely weakened Spanish colonial administration and a militarized urban population led inexorably to the events of 1810 and a political transformation of unforeseen scale and consequence.