It would be easy to assume that, in the eighteenth century, slavery and the culture of taste--the world of politeness, manners, and aesthetics--existed as separate and unequal domains, unrelated in the spheres of social life. But to the contrary, Slavery and the Culture of Taste demonstrates that these two areas of modernity were surprisingly entwined. Ranging across Britain, the antebellum South, and the West Indies, and examining vast archives, including portraits, period paintings, personal narratives, and diaries, Simon Gikandi illustrates how the violence and ugliness of enslavement actually shaped theories of taste, notions of beauty, and practices of high culture, and how slavery's impurity informed and haunted the rarified customs of the time. Gikandi focuses on the ways that the enslavement of Africans and the profits derived from this exploitation enabled the moment of taste in European--mainly British--life, leading to a transformation of bourgeois ideas regarding freedom and selfhood. He explores how these connections played out in the immense fortunes made in the West Indies sugar colonies, supporting the lavish lives of English barons and altering the ideals that defined middle-class subjects. Discussing how the ownership of slaves turned the American planter class into a new aristocracy, Gikandi engages with the slaves' own response to the strange interplay of modern notions of freedom and the realities of bondage, and he emphasizes the aesthetic and cultural processes developed by slaves to create spaces of freedom outside the regimen of enforced labor and truncated leisure. Through a close look at the eighteenth century's many remarkable documents and artworks, Slavery and the Culture of Taste sets forth the tensions and contradictions entangling a brutal practice and the distinctions of civility.
This book examines the role of Scottish Enlightenment ideas of belonging in the construction and circulation of white supremacist thought that sought to justify British imperial rule. During the 18th century, European imperial expansion radically increased population mobility through the forging of new trade routes, war, disease, enslavement and displacement. In this book, Onni Gust argues that this mass movement intersected with philosophical debates over what it meant to belong to a nation, civilization, and even humanity itself. Unhomely Empire maps the consolidation of a Scottish Enlightenment discourse of 'home' and 'exile' through three inter-related case studies and debates; slavery and abolition in the Caribbean, Scottish Highland emigration to North America, and raising white girls in colonial India. Playing out over poetry, political pamphlets, travel writing, philosophy, letters and diaries, these debates offer a unique insight into the movement of ideas across a British imperial literary network. Using this rich cultural material, Gust argues that whiteness was central to 19th-century liberal imperialism's understanding of belonging, whilst emotional attachment and the perceived ability, or inability, to belong were key concepts in constructions of racial difference.
Cultural Economies explores the dynamic intersection of material culture and transatlantic formations of "capital" in the long eighteenth century. It brings together two cutting-edge fields of inquiry—Material Studies and Atlantic Studies—into a generative collection of essays that investigate nuanced ways that capital, material culture, and differing transatlantic ideologies intersected. This ambitious, provocative work provides new interpretive critiques and methodological approaches to understanding both the material and the abstract relationships between humans and objects, including the objectification of humans, in the larger current conversation about capitalism and inevitably power, in the Atlantic world. Chronologically bracketed by events in the long-eighteenth century circum-Atlantic, these essays employ material case studies from littoral African states, to abolitionist North America, to Caribbean slavery, to medicinal practice in South America, providing both broad coverage and nuanced interpretation. Holistically, Cultural Economies demonstrates that the eighteenth-century Atlantic world of capital and materiality was intimately connected to both large and small networks that inform the hemispheric and transatlantic geopolitics of capital and nation of the present day.
Early American libraries stood at the nexus of two transatlantic branches of commerce—the book trade and the slave trade. Slavery and the Making of Early American Libraries bridges the study of these trades by demonstrating how Americans' profits from slavery were reinvested in imported British books and providing evidence that the colonial book market was shaped, in part, by the demand of slave owners for metropolitan cultural capital. Drawing on recent scholarship that shows how participation in London cultural life was very expensive in the eighteenth century, as well as evidence that enslavers were therefore some of the few early Americans who could afford to import British cultural products, the volume merges the fields of the history of the book, Atlantic studies, and the study of race, arguing that the empire-wide circulation of British books was underwritten by the labour of the African diaspora. The volume is the first in early American and eighteenth-century British studies to fuse our growing understanding of the material culture of the transatlantic text with our awareness of slavery as an economic and philanthropic basis for the production and consumption of knowledge. In studying the American dissemination of works of British literature and political thought, it claims that Americans were seeking out the forms of citizenship, constitutional traditions, and rights that were the signature of that British identity. Even though they were purchasing the sovereignty of Anglo-Americans at the expense of African-Americans through these books, however, some colonials were also making the case for the abolition of slavery.
"Selling Antislavery maps the vast media archive generated by institutional antislavery in the antebellum era. By paying particular attention to the movement's foundational phase in the 1830s-when the American Anti-Slavery Society was at the height of its organizational powers and before it splintered into warring factions in 1840-Selling Antislavery locates the emergence of abolitionist mass media in an earlier era and traces that period's influence on subsequent decades. In providing the prehistory of Uncle Tom's Cabin, it shows how Stowe's novel and related products mark the apex rather than the birth of antislavery mass media"--
What does it mean--and what might it yet come to mean--to write "history" in the twenty-first century? History After Hobsbawm brings together leading historians from across the globe to ask what being an historian should mean in their particular fields of study. Taking their cue from one of the previous century's greatest historians, Eric Hobsbawm, and his interests across many periods and places, the essays approach their subjects with an underlying sense of what role an historian might seek to play, and attempt to help twenty-first-century society understand "how we got here" They present new work in their sub-fields but also point to how their specialisms are developing, how they might further grow in the future, and how different areas of focus might speak to the larger challenges of history--both for the discipline itself and for its relationship to other fields of academic inquiry. Like Hobsbawn, the authors in this collection know that history matters. They speak to both the past and the present and, in so doing, introduce some of the most exciting new lines of research in a broad array of subjects from the medieval period to the present.
What does it mean - and what might it yet come to mean - to write 'history' in the twenty-first century? History After Hobsbawm brings together leading historians from across the globe to ask what being an historian should mean in their particular fields of study. Taking their cue from one of the previous century's greatest historians, Eric Hobsbawm, and his interests across many periods and places, the essays approach their subjects with an underlying sense of what role an historian might seek to play, and attempt to help twenty-first-century society understand 'how we got here'. They present new work in their sub-fields but also point to how their specialisms are developing, how they might further grow in the future, and how different areas of focus might speak to the larger challenges of history - both for the discipline itself and for its relationship to other fields of academic inquiry. Like Hobsbawn, the authors in this collection know that history matters. They speak to both the past and the present and, in so doing, introduce some of the most exciting new lines of research in a broad array of subjects from the medieval period to the present.
In Counterlife Christopher Freeburg poses a question to contemporary studies of slavery and its aftereffects: what if freedom, agency, and domination weren't the overarching terms used for thinking about Black life? In pursuit of this question, Freeburg submits that current scholarship is too preoccupied with demonstrating enslaved Africans' acts of political resistance, and instead he considers Black social life beyond such concepts. He examines a rich array of cultural texts that depict slavery—from works by Frederick Douglass, Radcliffe Bailey, and Edward Jones to spirituals, the television cartoon The Boondocks, and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained—to show how enslaved Africans created meaning through artistic creativity, religious practice, and historical awareness both separate from and alongside concerns about freedom. By arguing for the impossibility of tracing slave subjects solely through their pursuits of freedom, Freeburg reminds readers of the arresting power and beauty that the enigmas of Black social life contain.
Moving between Britain and Jamaica this book reconstructs the world of commerce, consumption and cultivation sustained through an extended engagement with the business of slavery. Transatlantic slavery was both shaping of and shaped by the dynamic networks of family that established Britain’s Caribbean empire. Tracing the activities of a single extended family – the Hibberts – this book explores how slavery impacted on the social, cultural, economic and political landscape of Britain. It is a history of trade, colonisation, enrichment and the tangled web of relations that gave meaning to the transatlantic world. The Hibberts’s trans-generational story imbricates the personal and the political, the private and the public, the local and the global. It is both the intimate narrative of a family and an analytical frame through which to explore Britain’s history and legacies of slavery.