Paul E. Lovejoy Prize

In: Journal of Global Slavery
Free access

The editorial team of the Journal of Global Slavery is pleased to announce the winner of the third annual Paul E. Lovejoy Prize for excellence and originality in a major work on any theme related to global slavery published in 2021.

The Paul E. Lovejoy Prize is named after the esteemed slavery scholar and distinguished professor of African Studies and African Diasporic Studies at York University in Canada. The author of more than thirty books and a hundred articles, Lovejoy pioneered new approaches to the historical study of slavery in West Africa and its diasporic communities, and played a critical role in revealing the interconnectedness between various African, Atlantic and Islamic systems of enslavement in the early modern and modern periods. He was the founding Director of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples and a former board member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Routes Project “Resistance, Liberty, Heritage” from 1996 to 2012.

The jury received several outstanding monograph submissions this year, all of which demonstrated excellence in their originality, thorough research, and contribution to the field of slavery studies. Ultimately, six finalists were selected, which consisted of the following illuminating works.

Jane Lydon, Anti-Slavery and Australia: No Slavery in a Free Land? (New York: Routledge, 2021).

This fascinating book is an interesting and very useful case study in “global slavery” research that the JGS explicitly encourages and embraces. Lydon takes what on the surface looks like a regional case study and instead zooms out to reveal the global connections and entanglements between issues of slavery in opposite corners of the British Empire, namely Australia/Australasia (including New Holland) and related emancipation discourses in Caribbean, all of which of course being discussed and debated through the metropole in Britain itself. Lydon explores the anti-slavery movement in imperial scope, arguing that colonization in Australasia facilitated emancipation in the Caribbean, even as abolition powerfully shaped the settler revolution.

Jesus Santuro, In the Blood of Our Brothers: Abolitionism and the End of the Slave Trade in Spain’s Atlantic Empire, 1800–1870 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2021).

This eloquently written book examines the processes of production, circulation, and reception of abolitionist ideas in Spain’s Atlantic empire at the beginning of the nineteenth century and their development through to the decade of the 1860s. It charts to British ideological, political, and diplomatic influence on the construction of anti–slave trade discourses and policies in Spain and stresses the multiplicity of abolitionist and anti-abolitionist ideas between 1802 and 1867. It appraises the emergence and development of public and political expressions of abolitionism and anti-abolitionism, studying the ideological backgrounds, political pressures, and motivations that operated during this process. The book tells the story of people who campaigned for and against the slave trade and slavery but who knew that they would never be enslaved themselves. However, it also tells the story of the enslaved and free men and women around the world who argued, agitated, and fought for freedom, and their contribution is essential to understand the success of the abolitionist cause across the Atlantic.

Kevin Waite, West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021).

This is a very well-written and eye-opening book on the visions (and attempts) by US southern slaveholders to expand slavery westward (through diplomacy, migration, and armed conquest). By the 1850s they had transformed the southwest into “client” states of the plantation South, even far beyond the cotton regions that dominated the slaveocracy. Waite demonstrates in this book how this westward expansion (and southern insistence on essentially turning the west into an allied pro-slavery empire of the South) led to the secession crisis and ultimately the outbreak of the US Civil War in 1860–1861.

Magdalena Candioti, Una historia de la emancipación negra: esclavitud y abolición en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Siglo veniuno editors, 2021).

This important and well-written work is the first to explore the abolition of slavery in Argentina (ultimately effected in 1853), where not only emancipation but indeed slavery itself remains a little-explored and largely neglected topic in the historical literature. Candioti provides a detailed and careful analysis of how this relatively marginal and overlooked corner of Atlantic slavery grappled with and ultimately effected abolition during the first half of the nineteenth century, tracing it back to its revolutionary origins during the independence movement and following it through to 1853 and beyond.

Joshua D. Rothman, The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America (New York: Basic Books, 2022).

In this beautifully written book, Rothman recounts the story of the domestic slave trade by tracing the lives and careers of the men (especially the notorious Franklin and Armfield) who built the largest and most powerful slave-trading operation in American history. The book challenges the dominant image of domestic slave traders as rejected and despised social outcasts in antebellum society. Instead, he demonstrates how rich and widely respected they were as businessmen. He also reveals how their company sat at the center of capital flows connecting southern fields to northeastern banks. Domestic slave trading firms like Franklin and Armfield fused entrepreneurial ambition and innovation with remorseless violence toward enslaved people, transforming antebellum American society and its slave-based economy.

Zach Sell, Trouble of the World: Slavery and Empire in the Age of Capital (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021).

This innovative work examines the explosive period of capitalist crisis and warfare between emancipation in the British Empire and emancipation in the United States (1833–1865), addressing and reassessing the relationship between empire and slavery within capitalism. In this age of global capital, US slavery exploded to a vastness hitherto unseen, propelled forward by the outrush of slavery-produced commodities to Britain, continental Europe, and beyond. The book follows this relationship between slavery, capital, and empire around the world, especially throughout the British Empire (including Australia, India, and Belize). It demonstrates how US slavery and agricultural commodities not only fueled Britain’s industrial manufacturing growth, but also inspired new imperial visions of colonial domination that took root on a global scale. The resulting system ultimately proved too powerful and too profitable to end, even after emancipation. Sell reveals how slavery’s influence indeed “survived” emancipation, infusing empire and capitalism to this day.

In the end, the jury unanimously decided to award this year’s Paul E. Lovejoy Prize to Zach Sell (University of Notre Dame) for his book Trouble of the World. The book is meticulously researched and draws from archival material from all over the world, including England, India, Australia, Belize, and the United States, to articulate the global scope of seemingly national issues. Sell’s broad understanding of how US slavery and British Empire (even to the furthest corners of that empire) were interrelated and interdependent, and ultimately produced a monster that essentially could not be restrained even after the proclamation of formal abolition, is truly commendable. Trouble of the World is a worthy laureate for the Lovejoy Prize for its contribution to the literature, its global scope, its beautifully written narrative, and its remarkably broad basis in a wide variety of archives around the world. We extend our warmest congratulations to Zach! Please see our interview with Zach in the present issue of the Journal of Global Slavery.

The jury members thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the submitted works and would like to thank all Lovejoy Prize nominees.

Submissions for next year’s Lovejoy Prize for an outstanding work on any theme related to global slavery published in 2022 must be received by 15 February 2023. Submissions should be in English, but works in other languages that can be read by the jury members will also be considered (please consult Ismael Montana or Damian Pargas for more information). Submissions should also be accompanied by a cover letter. Digital versions of monographs (e-books or pdfs of final proofs) are preferable to hard copies, in order to make them more accessible to committee members.

The Journal of Global Slavery will appoint a jury consisting of 3–4 members, who are all active and prominent scholars in their fields, for a one-year period (renewable to a max of three years). The jury is headed by the managing editor of the Journal.

For more information and to submit your work, please contact Ismael Montana ( or Damian Pargas (

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