Two for These Times

The uprisings in recent weeks against police brutality and institutionalized racism in the United States has brought the long wound of slavery into greater relief for everyone, whether we’re out in the streets or listening to newscasts. In recognition of this moment’s fury and demand for justice, we offer two special issues from our archives that address the issue of slavery head-on. Their engagements with questions of reparation, identity, dispossession, and the archive remain brilliantly, if painfully, pertinent today. All content in these issues is free through the end of 2020.

Special Issue (Representations 92):
Redress 
Edited by Saidiya Hartman and Stephen Best

STEPHEN BEST and SAIDIYA HARTMAN
Fugitive Justice

HERMAN L. BENNETT
‘‘Sons of Adam’’: Text, Context, and the Early Modern African Subject

COLIN J. DAYAN
Legal Terrors

ROBERT WESTLEY
The Accursed Share: Genealogy, Temporality, and the Problem of Value in Black Reparations Discourse

BRYAN WAGNER
Disarmed and Dangerous: The Strange Career of Bras-Coupe´

DAVID LLOYD
The Indigent Sublime: Specters of Irish Hunger


Special Issue (Representations 113):
New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual
Edited by Huey Copeland, Krista Thompson, and Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby

HUEY COPELAND and KRISTA THOMPSON
Perpetual Returns: New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual

DARCY GRIMALDO GRIGSBY
Negative-Positive Truths

KRISTA THOMPSON
The Evidence of Things Not Photographed: Slavery and Historical Memory in the British West Indies

ARTISTS’ PORTFOLIOS
Hank Willis Thomas, Fred Wilson, Christopher Cozier

HUEY COPELAND
Runaway Subjects

MARCUS WOOD
The Museu do Negro in Rio and the Cult of Anastácia as a New Model for the Memory of Slavery

COMMENTARY
STEPHEN BEST
Neither Lost nor Found: Slavery and the Visual Archive

 

They Were Her Property

Authors Meet Critics:

They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South

a conversation with the author, Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

Monday October 28, 2019, 4-5:30 pm, RSVP
Social Science Matrix
820 Barrows Hall
UC Berkeley

In discussing her book, Professor Jones-Rogers will engage with two UC Berkeley colleagues: Bryan Wagner*, Associate Professor in the Department of English, and Leslie Salzinger, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies.

Bridging women’s history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave-owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South’s slave market. Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave-owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave-owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America.

* Bryan Wagner’s essay Disarmed and Dangerous: The Strange Career of Bras-Coupé was published in Representations 92.

1619 Project–Further Reading

On Sunday August 18 the New York Times launched The 1619 Project, an initiative whose purpose, in the words of editor Jake Silverstein, is to “reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 [the date of the first arrival of slaves on the North American continent] as our birth year. Doing so requires us to put the consequences of slavery and the contribution of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.”

Although scholarship on slavery and its consequences has not been a singular focus of Representations, we have been publishing on the topic steadily over nearly four decades, and our archives reveal a surprisingly relevant cross section of critical readings on the subject. We highlight a few of them here in endorsement of The 1619 Project (all available free of charge through the end of September):

Neither Lost nor Found: Slavery and the Visual Archive
by Stephen Best

Love and Theft: The Racial Unconscious of Blackface Minstrelsy
Eric Lott

“Democracy and Burnt Cork”: The End of Blackface, the Beginning of Civil Rights
by Michael Rogin

The Trope of a New Negro and the Reconstruction of the Image of the Black
by Henry Louis Gates Jr

Glenn Ligon and Other Runaway Subjects
by Huey Copeland

The Accursed Share: Genealogy, Temporality, and the Problem of Value in Black Reparations Discourse
by Robert Wesley

Fugitive Justice
by Stephen Best and Saidiya Hartman

When Did the Confederate States of America Free the Slaves?
by Catherine Gallagher

Disarmed and Dangerous: The Strange Career of Bras-Coupéé
by Bryan Wagner

Legal Terrors
by Colin Dyan

Plus: the special issues New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual, edited by Huey Copeland, Krista Thompson, and Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby and Redress, edited by Stephen Best and Saidiya Hartman

 

The Tar Baby: A Global History

Join Bryan Wagner for a discussion of his recent book

The Tar Baby: A Global History

Weds., Oct. 17, 2018 | noon to 1:00, Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley

In The Tar Baby: A Global History (Princeton, 2017), Bryan Wagner explores how the tar baby tale, thought to have originated in Africa, came to exist in hundreds of forms on five continents. Examining the fable’s variation, reception, and dispersal over time, he argues that this story of a fox, a rabbit, and a doll made of tar and turpentine is best understood not merely as a folktale but as a collective work in political philosophy. Circulating at the same time and in the same places as new ideas about property and politics developed in colonial law and political economy, the tar baby comes to embody an understanding of the interlocking systems of slavery, colonialism, and global trade.

Bryan Wagner is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on African American expression in the context of slavery and its aftermath. In addition to The Tar Baby, he is the author of Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery. His essay “Disarmed and Dangerous: The Strange Career of Bras-Coupé” appeared in Representations 92.