With 50 participants, on February October the 13th, a talk on the Creole Slave-Ship Revolt was carried out via Zoom by Professor Jeffrey Kerr-Ritchie, a prestigious historian whose research interests include slavery, abolition, and post-emancipation societies, especially in North America and the Caribbean during the nineteenth century.
According to Professor Ritchie, the official termination of American participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade announced in 1807 was marked as an end of seafaring commerce in the black population. However, this scenario ignores the arisen coastal dimensions of the slave trade, with many US slavery ships taking the maritime routes between different parts of America and the Caribbean. Consequently, despite the abolition of slavery in the British Empire and governmental manipulation, captives continued to be transported on US merchant ships in large numbers for decades due to the profit gained from buying and selling slaves as labors. The continuation of slave trading played a critical role within the context of the expansion of the United States as a maritime and territorial empire. Numerous ships transported men, women, and children for the manufacturing of products like tobacco and cotton, to spread commerce and develop new markets. Supported by primary sources, Professor Kerr-Ritchie concluded that between the 1820s and 1850s, more than 50,000 captives were moved from ports in the Upper to Lower South, in which thousands of lives were consumed and countless African-American families were torn apart.
On September 19th, at the Humanities Fall Conference, the Freedom Lab hosted a forum on “Freedom Voices and Struggles Across the Globe.” The forum consisted of presentations and discussions by faculty and student research assistants on their current research projects sponsored by the Freedom Lab. Professor Qian Zhu, along with student researchers Qingyi Yin and Xueyi Liu, presented their ongoing research on the New Village Movement and New Life Movement in Republican China. Professor Jesse Olsavsky as well as Yue Qiu and Henry Stevens presented their work transcribing and editing abolitionist histories of the Haitian Revolution. Professor Bryce Beemer described his new research on the modern history of Burmese temple slaves. Professor Selina Lai Henderson concluded by discussing her work on the Chinese translation of W.E.B. Dubois’s foundational text, The Souls of Black Folk. The Freedom Lab looks forward to the student projects and publications that will emerge from the new research presented at this forum.
FREEDOM’S PROXIMITY: THE INTERCONNECTIONS BETWEEN AMERICAN SLAVERY, BRITISH COLONIAL ABOLITION, AND SLAVE SHIP REVOLT
BY PROFESSOR JEFFREY R. KERR-RITCHIE， HOWARD UNIVERSITY
Opening Welcome by VCAA Scott Maceachern
Tuesday October 13
9:15 PM-10:30 PM Beijing Time
Zoom ID： 261 330 4845
In November 1841, 19 rebels seized the US slave ship Creole transporting 139 slaves from Virginia to Louisiana and steered it to the British Bahamas. After a disputatious week between US officials and British colonial authorities, the slaves walked to freedom and scattered through the region. Drawing upon new historical documents, this talk narrates this fascinating story. It further situates this tale within the context of an expanding empire of American slavery and an expanding empire of British colonial abolition during the mid-nineteenth century.
Born in London, United Kingdom, Jeffrey Kerr-Ritchie earned his first history degree at Kingston University. He completed his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to teach at Wesleyan, Columbia, Penn, SUNY-Binghamton, and UNC-Greensboro. He has been teaching the African Diaspora field at Howard University since 2006. He has been Director of Graduate Studies since 2015. His research interests include slavery, abolition, and post-emancipation societies, especially in North America and the Caribbean during the nineteenth century. He has spoken on these topics in numerous countries, including Cuba, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Vietnam. Alongside numerous articles, he is author of the books Freed People in the Tobacco South (2003); Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World (2011); Freedom Seekers: Essays in Comparative Emancipation (2014); and most recently Rebellious Passage: The Creole Revolt and America’s Coastal Slave Trade (2019)
Haiti, known prior to 1804 as St. Domingue, was once the wealthiest colony in the French empire. African slaves worked the vast sugar plantations to enrich the powerful French Monarchy and Empire. On August 22nd, 1791, slaves on the northern plain of Haiti revolted against their masters, burned the plantations, and thrust themselves into the turmoil of the French Revolution. Out of the slave revolt came an alliance between the self-liberated Black people of Haiti and the revolutionary government of France. The slaves, who were ultimately led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, were betrayed when Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France and attempted to reinstate slavery in the Caribbean colonies. Despite imprisoning and killing L’Ouverture, while sending 50,000 soldiers to Haiti under his brother-in-law Leclerc, Bonaparte found that freed people would fight to the death to defend their liberty. Leclerc died in the fighting, and his successor Rochambeau retreated from a newly-freed Haiti, which Black leader Dessalines formally declared an independent nation in 1804.
Thirty years after Haitian independence, an American movement against slavery sprang into life. As with France, slave labor enriched the economy of the United States. In 1831, the slave Nat Turner led a revolt against slavery in Virginia, and in the same year, William Lloyd Garrison published the first edition of The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper, which openly declared American abolitionists’ resolution: “I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” From the 1830’s to the end of the Civil War, the Underground Railroad helped Southern slaves escape to the Northern free states where many became radical abolitionists. However, the slaveholding Southern states showed the institution’s resilience by creating slave territories out of the land seized in the Mexican-American war and extending their legal authority in the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which required all citizens of America to assist federal authorities in capturing runaway slaves The height of the tensions between slave-owners and abolitionists came in 1859 when abolitionist John Brown led an unsuccessful raid on Harper’s Ferry in an attempt to ignite a mass slave revolution, signaling an embrace of violence. Continue reading “Recovering Histories of the Haitian Revolution”
Annemieke van den Dool and Daniel Lim, faculty at Duke Kunshan University, interview Hayley Evans, a Frank Knox Research Fellow at Harvard University, on the international regulation of Lethal Autonomous Weapons.
On the 20th of July 2020, the Freedom Lab invited the famous Afro Yaqui Music Collective—an award-winning group of Jazz musicians based in Pittsburgh, for a live music performance and a conversation. There were five artists present for the occasion: Ben Barson, Charlotte Hill O’Neal (also known as “Mama C”), Gizelxanath Rodriguez, Nejma Nefertiti, and Peggy Myo-Young Choy. They are experts in different fields of art, and it was a pleasure seeing and hearing about their work on liberation and fights against global injustices. Professor Jesse Olsavsky and Professor Selina Lai-Henderson, co-directors of the Freedom Lab, hosted this event. We had a diverse group of approximately 65 attendees scattered around different parts of the world to share the love and knowledge that the Afro Yaqui artists gave.
Duke’s Asian American & Diaspora Studies (AADS) and Duke Kunshan’s Freedom Lab Present Transpacific Connections Collaboratory. TCC is a vertically-integrated transnational collaboration among faculty, graduate and undergraduate students at Duke, DKU, and beyond. Our goal is to build a platform to innovate methodologies and technologies to explore together divided and forgotten transpacific histories and their transcontinental legacies between Asia and the Americas as well as other regions such as Europe and Africa across the Pacific.
From July 24-31, TWN will present four films about the Korean War and its legacies on the organization’s Vimeo Channel:
Grandmother’s Flower, Jeong-hyun Mun, 2008, 89 min
“Combining substantial interviews with archival photos, Grandmother’s Flower offers invaluable insights into contemporary Korea’s struggle to move beyond the dark periods of Japanese colonial rule, the Korean War, and subsequent division of the country. Highly recommended.”