In Freedom's Name: Rethinking Caribbean Emancipations

Scholars have commonly celebrated general emancipation as the triumph of an extended struggle shaped by abolitionists and enslaved people to end the violent systems of human exploitation called slavery.

While there is little doubt that emancipation was thus a major transformative event within distinct, though intertwined, sets of processes that reshaped economic structures, practices of governance, patterns of mobility and migration, cultural formations, social relations, and much more, this narrative of systemic change which often ends with the cessation of formal slavery and asserts the importance of freedom, does not fully interrogate the multiple usages, meanings, and applications of emancipation to take into account the array of processes or contexts that shaped events for various societies and systems of enslavement.

This conference therefore takes a long view of emancipation. It views emancipation fundamentally as a multi-layered set of processes and conditions that include: attempts of enslaved people, acting individually or collectively, to seek freedom for themselves or for others; approaches to manumission; the initial murmurings of abolitionist sentiment; the tortured transition to free labor; the continuing struggle for political rights and black autonomy; the haunting spectacle of the possibility of re-enslavement ; the struggles of the emancipated people to attach positive meanings to their new status; and transitions in the politics of colonial rule.



Rebecca Scott

Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and Law
University of Michigan
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April 21, 2017
Smith Warehouse - Bay 4, C105 - Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall

Sponsored by the Department of History, Franklin Humanities Institute, Haiti Lab, Center for Lain American and Caribbean Studies, Department of Literature, Department of International and Comparative Studies, Department of Romance Studies, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Center for International and Global Studies, Center for French and Francophone Studies, Center for Global Studies and Humanities, Professor Wahneema Lubiano, Dean Valerie Ashby, and Dean Linda Burton.