Conference: Slave Narratives in British And French America, 1700–1848

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14–15 July 2017

Notre Dame London Global Gateway
1–4 Suffolk Street
Northwest side of Trafalgar Square

Conference organizers:
Sophie White
University of Notre Dame
Trevor Burnard
University of Melbourne

This conference seeks to propel our thinking about how we understand the quotidian existence of enslaved people in the two biggest slave systems in the Greater Caribbean during the height of plantation slavery. Specifically, this conference focuses on alternative types of slave narratives and interrogates how such narratives were produced, the slave societies in which slave narratives existed and the meanings that we can attach to such narratives. The overall aim is to get more information about the everyday lives—including the spiritual lives—of slaves in the major two plantation empires in the Greater Caribbean. This should allow us to begin to move beyond planter narratives and accounts of slave life that outline demographic, material and economic realities in order to understand more fully enslaved persons’ lived experience. For French colonies, this means paying especially close attention to religion, since Catholic instruction was a formal requirement of enslavement. The conference will be the first ever dedicated to rethinking slave narratives in comparative British and French colonial perspective and will bring together some the world’s most eminent scholars of slavery. As such, this interdisciplinary gathering promises to be innovative, path-breaking and of profound significance.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Melbourne. Additional support was provided by the Global Collaboration Initiative, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts’ Henkels Lecture Fund, the Nanovic Institute of European Studies, and the Departments of American Studies, Africana Studies, and History at the University of Notre Dame.

Conference registration for this event is free but required.

Conference Program

14 July 2017

10–10:10 a.m. 
Opening Remarks
Sophie White (University of Notre Dame) and Trevor Burnard (University of Melbourne)

10:10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Session One: Telling Stories
Dominique Rogers (Université des Antilles et de la Guyane)
“Slave Judiciary Testimonies in the French Caribbean: What To Do With Them”

Cecile Vidal (E.H.E.S.S. Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales)
“Fictions in the Archives”: Slave Tales in Court in French New Orleans”

Sophie White (University of Notre Dame)
“‘He said, without being asked…’: Slave Narratives and Testimony in French Colonial Courts”

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
Lunch

1:30–3 p.m.
Session Two: European Perspectives
Amanda Capern (Hull University)
“Justice and equity: Litigant Narratives in the Early-Modern English Court of Chancery”

Miranda Spieler (American University-Paris)
“Slave Voice and the Legal Archive: The Case of Freedom Suits before the Paris Admiralty Court”

3–3:30 p.m.
Afternoon Tea

3:30–5 p.m.
Session Three: The Nineteenth-Century British Caribbean
Trevor Burnard (University of Melbourne)
“‘I Know I Have to Work’: Slave Narratives and the Moral Economy of Labour in Berbice, 1819-1834”

Anita Rupprecht (University of Brighton)
“‘This Tortola is very bad’: Re-captive African Narratives and the Colonial Archive in the British Caribbean, 1807-1828”

Reception to follow

15 July 2017

10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Session Four: Native Americans
Linford Fisher (Brown University)
“A ‘Spanish Indian Squaw’ in New England: Indian Ann’s Journey from Slavery to Freedom”

Brett Rushforth (University of Oregon, William & Mary Quarterly)
“‘She said her answers contained the truth’: Hearing Enslaved Voices in the Judicial Records of New France”

Margaret Newell (Ohio State University)
“In the Borderlands of Race and Freedom: Indian and African Slave Testimony in Eighteenth-Century New England”

12:30–1:30 p.m. 
Lunch

1:30–3 p.m.
Session Five: Literary and Visual Testimony
Nicole Aljoe (Northwestern University)
“Reading the ‘Memoir of Florence Hall’ Through the Long Song of the Caribbean Colonial Archive”

Sarah Thomas (Birkbeck College)
“Visual Testimonies in the Age of Emancipation: Searching for the ‘invisible man’”

3 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Afternoon Tea

3:30–5 p.m. 
Session Six: The Long View
Commentary: Emily Clark (Tulane University) and Gad Heuman (Warwick University)

 

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