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In: Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism: Reconfiguring Gender, Race, and Nation in American Antislavery Literature
In: Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism: Reconfiguring Gender, Race, and Nation in American Antislavery Literature
In: Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism: Reconfiguring Gender, Race, and Nation in American Antislavery Literature
Author:
Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism redefines the potential of American antislavery literature as a cultural and political imaginary by situating antislavery literature in specific transnational contexts and highlighting the role of women as producers, subjects, and audiences of antislavery literature. Pia Wiegmink draws attention to locales, authors, and webs of entanglement between texts, ideas, and people. Perceived through the lens of gender and transnationalism, American antislavery literature emerges as a body of writing that presents profoundly reconfigured literary imaginations of freedom and equality in the United States prior to the Civil War.

Abstract

This introductory essay to the special issue Beyond Slavery and Freedom? makes concrete suggestions how we might move beyond this binary and why we should do so. The introduction argues that the conceptual pair slavery/freedom is deeply entwined with narratives of modernity and progress and has shaped scholarship in very diverse fields. On the basis of empirical research from the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), we identify six possible pathways of thematically and methodologically moving beyond slavery/freedom that the contributions to the special issue address: 1) investigating forms of dependency that are not usually defined as slavery, 2) paying attention to semantic fields that are closely connected to this binary but not usually understood in relation to it, 3) highlighting the connection between (political, institutional) power and dependency, 4) engaging with post-slavery periods and experiences, 5) problematizing the challenges of identifying slavery in non-written records, and 6) underscoring the voice of actors.

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In: Journal of Global Slavery