by Nick Draper On Wednesday 8th May, I gave a presentation on ‘Slavery and Britain’s Infrastructure’ to staff at the National Infrastructure Commission’s secretariat in Holborn. The NIC was established in 2017 as an executive agency of HM Treasury with a charter to provide advice and make independent recommendations to government on national infrastructure priorities, […]
The Musée d’Orsay in Paris has just opened an exhibition entitled ‘Le modèle noir De Géricault à Matisse,’ which attempts to restore the identities and perspectives of black figures depicted on canvas but largely written out of history. This article from the Washington Post focuses on one artwork in the exhibition. The painting by Marie-Guillemine Benoist has hung in the Louvre for decades under the title ‘Portrait of a black woman.’ In the new exhibition, the subject of the painting is named – it is entitled ‘Portrait of Madeleine’ because it is a portrait of an emancipated, formerly enslaved woman from Guadeloupe who worked in the home of the artist’s brother-in-law. The exhibition addresses France’s role in the slave trade and the manifestation of the debate over slavery in the arts of the period.
David Beck Ryden, “Manumission in Late Eighteenth-Century Jamaica,” New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 92:3-4 (2018): 211–244.
I’m very pleased that my most recent research on manumission in late-eighteenth century Jamaica has been published in the New West Indian Guide, the oldest scholarly journal with a focus on the Caribbean.
Manumission (the liberation of individual slaves) took place in many slave societies throughout history for a variety of reasons. In this article, I use over 300 manumission deeds from Jamaica to explore the rationale for freedom grants, demography of the manumitted population, characteristics of the manumitters, and prices paid for freedom, when cash was exchanged. In Jamaica, the proportion of slaves who were manumitted was very small, but one has to keep in mind that the entire population of bondsmen and women was very large on the island. Nonetheless, manumission occurred on a regular basis and had…
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Randy M. Browne is a historian of slavery and colonialism in the Atlantic world, especially the Caribbean. He is an Associate Professor of History at Xaverian University (Cincinnati). Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean is his first book and he discusses it here with Jessica Parr.
Q&A with Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833
The book has also been reviewed in detail at the Institute of Historical Research ‘Reviews in History’ site: Click here for the review
History Workshop has published an 1809 letter written by a formerly enslaved woman, Mary Williamson, to her former owner in Jamaica. I know from my own research that uncovering the voices of women in the Caribbean past is extremely difficult, and it is even more so when it comes to enslaved women. Take a look at the letter over on the History Workshop website here
Reviews in History has published a review by Dr Daniel Livesay of the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership website and database. The website was created by a team of researchers at University College London lead by Professor Catherine Hall, and has been live for a few years now. It details claims for compensation submitted by slave-owners at the time of slave emancipation—the British government promised the astronomical sum (at the time) of £20 million in compensation. As Livesay notes, the website is “stunningly-comprehensive and meticulously-researched.” In response to the review, UCL noted that a large number of colleagues from within and outside academia (myself included) have contributed to the population of the database, and this contribution is great valued.
Visit the Reviews in History website to read the review and response: Review of LBSO Website
Sometimes the best thing a book can do is make you feel guilty. That is certainly the case with the book I’m gisting today.
There were more enslaved women in the colonial port town of Bridgetown, found on the western edge of Barbados, than any other demographic group. So why do they receive such little attention? Marisa J. Fuentes, in her provocative book Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive (UPenn Press, 2016), argues that the traditional archive was constructed in such a way to inflict perpetual violence upon women. Until that narrative is disrupted, historians continue to partake in this original sin. Fuentes’s book is, she explains, an attempt at “redress” (12). Dispossessed Lives follows the stories of a handful of women in the eighteenth century through the lens of documents that only peripherally mention them: a runaway named Jane, a mulatto brothel, an enslaved woman who was…
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Episode 199 of The Outlander Podcast is an interview with the cast and production team for 1745. I wrote about this film in an earlier post. That post also has links to the work of a team of historians at the University of Glasgow investigating runaway slaves in Scotland. The podcast interview is well worth a listen. The story in the film is fascinating, and as the writers mention, there is so much research yet to be done. I think it’s brilliant that this invisible history is being brought to the big screen.
Click here for a link to the Podcast
This is an excellent article about the way that the curators at the Musée de l’Histoire de Nantes have displayed the portraits of Dominique and Marguerite Deurbroucq—and in particular, the way that the curators draw museum-goers’ attention to the enslaved Africans depicted in the portraits.
In May 2015, theMusée de l’Histoire de Nantes welcomed two of their most influential citizens of the eighteenth century to their permanent collection. The museum, housed in the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, received two portraits – one of Dominique Deurbroucq and the other of his wife Marguerite – both of which feature prominently in the main exhibition on Atlantic slavery and the slave trade in Nantes. Painted in 1753 by Pierre-Bernard Morlot, the Deurbroucqs are portrayed in all of the luxe of the century, accompanied by their domestic slaves who lived with them in Nantes. I recently visited the collection and was particularly interested in the framing of these two portraits within the narrative of the tran-Atlantic slave trade and the history of Nantes.
Pierre-Bernard Morlot, Portraits des Deurbroucq, 1753. (Photo credit to Nathan H. Dize)
For museums, memorial sites, and monuments, context…
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