March 14–16, 2013
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados
The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture seeks proposals for papers to be presented at a conference entitled “Africans in the Americas: Making Lives in a New World, 1675–1825,” to be held at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, on March 14–16, 2013.
Historians currently estimate that some 12 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean during the era of the slave trade, 1500–1867, the largest forced migration in history. Studies of the cultures, circumstances, geographies, and decisions that led to enslavement in Africa, the trade’s enormous profitability, and the horrific experience of the Middle Passage have produced important insights into the traffic in human beings and the terrible cost in lives it exacted. Such research and writing has also helped us understand how the trade created new economic, political, and social realities in the larger Atlantic world.
“Africans in the Americas: Making Lives in a New World, 1675–1825” seeks to expand the penumbra of this scholarship by focusing on the people who survived capture and the slave ships and ultimately found themselves in worlds hitherto unknown to them. The program committee aims for a broad interdisciplinary approach that takes in all of the places in the Americas to which Africans were transported—Central and South America, the Caribbean, and mainland North America—during the century-and-a-half that witnessed the greatest increase in the volume of the trade. Scholars working in all fields—anthropology, archaeology, the histories of architecture and art, cultural and religious studies, drama, foodways, history, literature, material culture, medicine and epidemiology, and music—are invited to consider what light their evidence sheds on the strategies that enslaved Africans used to build lives within a system designed to dehumanize and exploit them.
Among general questions that might be pondered are: How were African cultures transformed by crossing the Atlantic? What knowledge, customs, memories, and rituals did enslaved Africans maintain—what did they dispose of and what did they create? What personal and collective strategies of resilience and resistance did they develop? How did they understand and treat the pervasiveness of death in their lives? How did enslaved women bear, raise, and protect children? How did the presence and experiences of Africans change the cultures of Europeans and Native Americans? What sorts of relationships did Africans enter into with each other and negotiate with other Atlantic peoples? Did connections to Africa survive the rupture of enslavement? What did enslaved Africans understand “freedom” to mean and did they see attaining it as a plausible or desirable alternative? What were the salient experiences and remembrances of life-making in a new world from which Africans in the Americas, 1675–1825, wove the histories they transmitted to their descendants?
Submissions may be made in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Simultaneous translation will be available at the conference. Send a proposal of no more than five (5) pages, double-spaced, and a brief c.v. containing telephone and email contact information to http://oieahc.wm.edu/conferences/Barbados/cfp/index.cfm. The deadline for submitting proposals is September 3, 2012. All submissions will be acknowledged by email. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please resubmit or contact Kim Foley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Persons submitting proposals should be advised that the conference budget cannot cover travel, although some allowances will be made for scholars from Africa whose proposals are accepted for the program. The conference will assume all other expenses (lodging, meals, local transportation) associated with participation in the meeting.
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