Universiteit Leiden

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Conference | Workshop

Urban Slavery in the Age of Abolition, ca. 1770-1930

Thursday 22 June 2017 - Friday 23 June 2017
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference Room (2.60)

Slave societies in the Atlantic world were highly urbanized. Despite this basic fact historians have long been exclusively interested in plantation slavery. Urban slavery and the position of freedmen are finally gaining the interest of slavery scholars globally.

This workshop raises the level of the conversation on urban slavery by taking on the complex process of abolition and connecting and comparing it across geographies. At the abolition of slavery we see that many former slaves were drawn to urban centers. It stands to reason that the way slavery worked in these urban spaces was important in determining the legacy of abolition (and with that, slavery).

The workshop gathers scholars of slavery from across Atlantic world, including various Caribbean islands, the West-African coast, South America and the United States. The result is a geographically inclusive answer to the following questions:
1) What did urban slavery entail in this period?
2) What changed when Abolition appeared on the agenda?
3) What was the legacy of Abolition in urban environments?

J.P. Benoit, Oude Oranjetuin (1839)

Invited scholars will explore the following aspects of urban slavery in the age of abolition:
- policies regarding domination and control
- legal status and access to arbitration
- land ownership, housing and segregation
- urban identities (including religion and racialization)
- family life and kinship
- manumission and emancipation
- urban economy and urban occupational structure
- connections beyond the city (migration, marriages, landownership, trade).

If you would like to attend the workshop or you have any questions, please contact Karwan Fatah-Black.



Day 1, June 22

8:30 Welcome with coffee / tea

9:00 Opening

Karwan Fatah-Black, Word of welcome and introduction

Wim Klooster, Comparative Perspectives on the Urban Black Atlantic on the Eve of Abolition

10:00-12:00 End of the slave trade

Trevor Burnard, Urban Slavery in Kingston Before and After the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1770-1815

Mariana Candido, Urban Slavery in the Age of Abolition: The Case of Benguela

12:00-13:00 Break

13:00-14:00 North America

Jared Hardesty, A Disappearing Act: The Legacy of Abolition in Boston

Viola Müller, “To make them orderly, industrious, and productive”: Slave Refugees, Free Blacks, and Urban Slavery in Baltimore, 1800-1860

14:00-16:00 Law courts & urban space

 Rebecca R. Scott and Carlos Venegas, Adjudicating Status in a Time of Slavery: Luisa Coleta and the Capuchin Friar (Havana 1817)

Marion Pluskota, Prosecuting Criminal Citizens: Penal Code, Urban Centers and Abolition of Slavery in the French Caribbean. 

16:00-17:00 Traces of Slavery, Leiden walking tour


Day 2, June 23

9:00-11:00 Non-black captives

Yacine Daddi Adoun, Slavery in Algiers: The case of the Portuguese Captives in the Early Nineteenth Century

Christine Sears, “Individuals of Different Nations”: Urban Enslavement and Identities in Algiers

11:00-13:00 Paths through slavery

Nadine Marchena Kean, Savanne, DWI: A Pathway to Freedom on the Island of St. Thomas

Mariana Dantas and Douglas Libby, Families, manumission, and freed people in Minas Gerais in the era of Atlantic Abolitionism

13:00-13:30 Lunch break

13:30-15:00 Remembering slavery

Michael Zeuske, "Matanzas as Center of the "Cuba grande" and the urbanization of the plantation plain from Jovellanos (Bemba) to Colón"

Samuel North, Remembering slavery in urban Cape Town: emancipation or continuity?

15:00-16:00 Closing session

Diana Paton, Closing remarks

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