Black Ghost of Empire: Comparative Emancipations in Comparative Perspective

Murray Learning Centre - UG07
Monday 19 June 2023 (15:30-17:00)

Shirley Ye

Drawing of a cat sitting on a bag of money

Leverhulme lecture: Kris Manjapra

Please note the new date and the room location has been updated to Murray Learning Centre LC-UG07

To understand why the shadow of slavery still haunts us today - and the truer meaning of reparations - we must look closely at the way slavery ended. Between the 1770s and 1880s, emancipation processes took off across the Atlantic world. But far from ushering in a new age of human rights and universal freedoms, these emancipations further codified the racial caste systems they claimed to disrupt.

In this talk, Kris Manjapra identifies six types of emancipations across the globe - gradual emancipations in the American North, compensated and retroactive emancipation in the Caribbean, emancipation by war in the American South, emancipation as pretext for massive colonialism in Africa, and emancipation at sea - and reveals how the perceived failures of all of them were not failures at all, but the predictable outcomes of policies designed first and foremost to preserve the status quo of racial oppression.

Black Ghost of Empire rewires our understanding of the world in which we live. Abolition was not a line, once established, that marked the end of slavery and the beginning of a new world order. And yet, the formerly enslaved resisted and fled oppression: they rebelled, made art, and loved. 

Speaker biography

Kris Manjapra, Professor of History at Tufts University (Boston, USA) works at the intersection of comparative global history and the critical study of race and colonialism. He is the author of five books, including the forthcoming Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation (Scribner and Penguin, 2022). His previous book, Colonialism in Global Perspective (Cambridge, 2020), contributes to the emerging field of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies. And Age of Entanglement: German and Indian Intellectual across Empire (Harvard, 2014) received the 2019 International Merck-Tagore Prize. He served as the chair of the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University from 2017-2021. 

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