Historian Jessica Marie Johnson (Johns Hopkins Univ.) digs into her award-winning new book, Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World. The conversation brings out how Black women in Senegambia, the Caribbean, and Louisiana devised ways to gain control over parts of their lives and defined freedom for themselves in the age of slavery and the slave trade. The interview closes with Dr. Johnson’s thoughts on LifexCode: Digital Humanities Against Enclosure, which she directs, and on the critical role of ethical collaborative scholarship in academic endeavors.
Lisa Lindsay (North Carolina) on her forthcoming biography of James Churchwill Vaughan—whose life provides insights into the bonds of slavery and family and the differing prospects for people of African descent in the 19th-century Atlantic world. Vaughan’s odyssey took him from slavery-ridden South Carolina to Liberia and finally Nigeria, where he was involved in the Yoruba Wars, led a revolt against white racism, and founded not only the first independent Nigerian church but also a family of activists. With guest host, Laura Fair.
David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History at Emory University, on the making of the Transatlantic Slave Trade database, a landmark collaborative digital project he has co-edited for two decades. Eltis discusses the research process, online dissemination, and new directions for the initiative. This is the second part of a two-part series recorded at the Atlantic Slave Biographies Database Conference at Michigan State University in November 2013.
Paul Lovejoy, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History at York University, discusses building an international database of biographical information on all enslaved Africans. He outlines this digital history project’s contribution to the study of slavery, race, and broader themes in global history. This is the first part of a two-part series recorded at the Atlantic Slave Biographies Database Conference at Michigan State University in November 2013. (Click here for Jessica Johnson’s Twitter timeline of the conference.)
Historians Gwendolyn Midlo Hall and Walter Hawthorne on Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network — a digital history project of Matrix and the MSU History Department funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. They discuss the origins of the ASDN, intellectual and technological challenges, and the wider significance of building a freely accessible web database on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World.
Historian Ned Alpers (UCLA) on changing trends in Indian Ocean history and Africa’s centrality within it. Drawing from over three decades of research and a recently published book, Alpers discusses east African views of the Indian Ocean; slavery and the slave trade; resistance and agency. He concludes by reflecting on the daunting challenges and exciting opportunities facing Indian Ocean historians today. With guest host Laura Fair.
Historians Stephanie Beswick (Ball State U.) and Jay Spaulding (Kean U.) on ethnicity, slavery, and trade in Sudan. Focus is on pre-colonial times, with an emphasis on how power relationships and economic factors influenced identity formation and political conflict. The interview was conducted at the Sudan Studies Association meeting in East Lansing.
Our first anniversary episode! Historian Martin Klein (Emeritus, U. of Toronto) reflects on African history and historiography and his life’s work on slavery in West Africa. Klein then sheds light on his ongoing research (in cooperation with leading Africanists) on African slaves. He concludes with observations about the state of historical research in Senegal, Mali, and Guinea.
Walter Hawthorne (History, MSU) is an expert on Africa and the Atlantic World in the era of the slave trade. We talk with him (and Joseph Lauer) about the history of rice farmers on the Upper Guinea Coast and the vigorous debate over Judith Carney’s “Black Rice” thesis. Hawthorne closes by describing his forthcoming book Forging a Creole Atlantic: Africans on the Upper Guinea Coast, in Portugal and in Amazonia, 1650-1830.