In Biography and the Black Atlantic, leading historians
in the field of Atlantic studies examine the biographies and
autobiographies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
African-descended people and reflect on the opportunities and
limitations these life stories present to studies of slavery and
the African diaspora. The essays remind us that historical
developments like slavery and empire-building were mostly
experienced and shaped by men and women outside of the elite
political, economic, and military groups whom historians often turn
to as sources.
Despite the scarcity of written records and other methodological
challenges, the contributors to Biography and the Black Atlantic
have pieced together vivid glimpses into lives of remarkable,
through previously unknown, enslaved and formerly enslaved people
who moved, struggled, and endured in different parts of Africa, the
Americas, and Europe. From the woman of Fulani origin who made her
way from Revolutionary Haiti to Louisiana to the free black
American who sailed for Liberia and the former slave from Brazil
who became a major slave trader in Angola, these stories render the
Atlantic world as a densely and sometimes unpredictably
interconnected sphere. Biography and the Black Atlantic
demonstrates the power of individual stories to illuminate history:
though the life histories recounted here often involved
extraordinary achievement and survival against the odds, they also
portray the struggle for self-determination and community in the
midst of alienation that lies at the heart of the modern
Contributors: James T. Campbell, Vincent Carretta,
Roquinaldo Ferreira, Jean-Michel Hébrard, Martin Klein, Lloyd S.
Kramer, Sheryl Kroen, Jane Landers, Lisa A. Lindsay, Joseph C.
Miller, Cassandra Pybus, João José Reis, Rebecca J. Scott, Jon
Sensbach, John Wood Sweet.
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