Biography and the Black Atlantic

9780812245462: Hardback
Release Date: 31st October 2013

1 map

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 384

Series The Early Modern Americas

University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Biography and the Black Atlantic

In this volume, leading historians reflect on the recent biographical turn in studies of slavery and the modern African diaspora. This collection presents vivid glimpses into the lives of remarkable enslaved and formerly enslaved people who moved, struggled, and endured in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Atlantic world.

Hardback / £46.00

In Biography and the Black Atlantic, leading historians in the field of Atlantic studies examine the biographies and autobiographies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century African-descended people and reflect on the opportunities and limitations these life stories present to studies of slavery and the African diaspora. The essays remind us that historical developments like slavery and empire-building were mostly experienced and shaped by men and women outside of the elite political, economic, and military groups to which historians often turn as sources.

Despite the scarcity of written records and other methodological challenges, the contributors to Biography and the Black Atlantic have pieced together vivid glimpses into lives of remarkable, through previously unknown, enslaved and formerly enslaved people who moved, struggled, and endured in different parts of Africa, the Americas, and Europe. From the woman of Fulani origin who made her way from Revolutionary Haiti to Louisiana to the free black American who sailed for Liberia and the former slave from Brazil who became a major slave trader in Angola, these stories render the Atlantic world as a densely and sometimes unpredictably interconnected sphere. Biography and the Black Atlantic demonstrates the power of individual stories to illuminate history: though the life histories recounted here often involved extraordinary achievement and survival against the odds, they also portray the struggle for self-determination and community in the midst of alienation that lies at the heart of the modern condition.

Contributors: James T. Campbell, Vincent Carretta, Roquinaldo Ferreira, Jean-Michel Hébrard, Martin Klein, Lloyd S. Kramer, Sheryl Kroen, Jane Landers, Lisa A. Lindsay, Joseph C. Miller, Cassandra Pybus, João José Reis, Rebecca J. Scott, Jon Sensbach, John Wood Sweet.

Introduction: Biography and the Black Atlantic

Chapter 1. A Historical Appreciation of the Biographical Turn
—Joseph C. Miller
Chapter 2. Understanding the Slave Experience in West Africa
—Martin Klein
Chapter 3. Robinson Charley: The Ideological Underpinnings of Atlantic History
—Sheryl Kroen

Chapter 4. Black Pearls: Writing Black Atlantic Women's Biography
—Jon Sensbach
Chapter 5. Recovered Lives as a Window into the Enslaved Family
—Cassandra Pybus
Chapter 6. From Slave to Wealthy African Freedman: The Story of Manoel Joaquim Ricardo
—João José Reis

Chapter 7. David Dorr's Journey Toward Selfhood in Europe
— Lloyd Kramer
Chapter 8. Methodology in the Making and Reception of Equiano
—Vincent Carretta
Chapter 9. Remembering His Country Marks: A Nigerian American Family and Its "African" Ancestor
—Lisa Lindsay

Chapter 10. The Atlantic Transformations of Francisco Menéndez
—Jane Landers
Chapter 11. Echoes of the Atlantic: Benguela (Angola) and Brazilian Independence
—Roquinaldo Ferreira
Chapter 12. Rosalie of the Poulard Nation: Freedom, Law, and Dignity in the Era of the Haitian Revolution
—Rebecca Scott and Jean-Michel Hébrard

—James Campbell

List of Contributors

Lisa A. Lindsay is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of Captives as Commodities: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Working with Gender: Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria and coeditor (with Stephan F. Miescher) of Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa. John Wood Sweet is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Bodies Politic: Negotiating Race in the American North, 1730-1830 and coeditor (with Robert Appelbaum) of Envisioning an English Empire: Jamestown and the Making of the North Atlantic World, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

"Scholars and students of the Black Atlantic, as well as those interested in biography, will be richly rewarded by reading this volume. The essays are uniformly excellent; the introduction and conclusions are superb."—African Studies Review

"A splendid collection from luminaries in the field of Atlantic history, Biography and the Black Atlantic charts a coherent path toward a collective biographical project that will thoroughly recast our understanding of the modern Atlantic world."—James Sweet, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"A fascinating and timely collection, written by some of the most important and outstanding scholars in Atlantic studies, which shows that the history of the Black Atlantic goes beyond the slave trade. Biography and the Black Atlantic allows us to reimagine how individuals negotiated this complex and evolving social, economic, and political space."—Randy J. Sparks, Tulane University