This seminar will explore the ways that comparative literatures of slavery, as well as the history of slavery itself, might be re-mapped by attending to dynamic networks of science and knowledge production across the Atlantic World. While various fields have moved toward a more global theorization of slavery (comparative histories of slavery, postcolonial approaches, an increasingly hemispheric Southern Studies, ongoing investigations into the Black Atlantic, and so on), the history of science as it pertains to race and enslavement remains, for the most part, confined within problematic frameworks of the nation-state. In U.S. contexts, for example, scholars often repeat the truism that institutions of slavery were perpetuated by a powerful American race science that emerged with the rise of comparative anatomy and related sciences in the late eighteenth century. But eighteenth- and nineteenth-century race science was actually composed of a diverse set of fields, theories, experiments, and knowledges that were produced and circulated throughout the Northern and Southern Americas as well as in Europe and Africa. This seminar will focus on the Atlantic circulation of experimental science in order to probe and challenge the national borders of literatures of enslavement. We will be especially interested in exploring alternative knowledge practices that challenged scientific racism as well as minor sciences that mobilized the experimentalism of empiricism in the struggle for emancipation.
Interested parties should submit a 250-word proposal and 50-word bio through the ACLA website: http://www.acla.org/acla2011/?page_id=33. The ACLA annual conference uses a seminar format, where 12-15 scholars meet during a 2-3 day seminar to present papers and engage in discussion around a common theme of interest. Deadline for submissions: NOVEMBER 1, 2010.
External Humanities Fellow
Center for the Humanities
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