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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa , The African (1789)

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa , The African (1789)

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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa , The African (1789)

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  1. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African (1789) Dr. Christine Okoth christine.okoth@warwick.ac.uk

  2. Language Disclaimer Enslaved instead of Slave Enslaver instead of Owner/Master Indigenous or Native instead of Indian

  3. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African (1789) 1) Maps of Trade – Maps of Freedom 2) Equiano as Text 3) The Case for Abolition

  4. Maps of Trade – Maps of FreedomThe Age of Revolutions 1776: U.S. Declaration of Independence 1789: French Revolution 1789: Equiano, The Interesting Narrrative 1791: Haitian Revolution

  5. Maps of Trade – Maps of FreedomThe Transatlantic Slave Trade Emory Center For Digital Scholarship, Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, http://digitalscholarship.emory.edu/projects/featured/voyages-slave-trade.html

  6. Maps of Trade – Maps of FreedomTrade and Empire Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power (1985) Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather (1995) Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (2015)

  7. Maps of Trade – Maps of FreedomEquiano’s Voyages Miles Ogborn and Edward Oliver in Miles Ogborn 'Global historical geographies, 1500-1800' in B.J. Graham and C. Nash (eds) Modern Historical Geographies (Harlow: Longman, 2000)

  8. Maps of Trade – Maps of FreedomSaidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection (1997) ‘The enduring legacy of slavery was readily discernible in the travestied liberation, castigated agency, and blameworthiness of the free individual. By the same token, the ubiquitous fun and frolic that supposedly demonstrated slave contentment and the African’s suitedness for slavery were mirrored in the panic about idleness, intemperate consumption, and fanciful expressions of freedom, all of which justified coercive labor measures and the constriction of liberties.’ (p.6)

  9. Equiano as Text

  10. Equiano as Text The Talking Book ‘I had often seen my master and Dick employed in reading; and had a great curiosity to talk to the book, as I thought they did; and so to learn how all things had a beginning: for that purpose I have often taken up a book, and have talked to it, and then put my ears to it, when alone, in hopes it would answer me; and I have been very much concerned when I found it remained silent.’ (Ch.3)

  11. Equiano as Text Henry Louis Gates, The Signifying Monkey (1988) “[The trope of the Talking Book] also reveals, rather surprisingly, that the curious tension between the black vernacular and the literate white text, between spoken and the written word, between the oral and the printed forms of literary discourse, has been represented and thematised in black letters at least since the slaves and ex-slaves met the challenge of the Enlightenment to their humanity by literally writing themselves into being through carefully crafted representations of themselves in language.” (p.131)

  12. Equiano as Text The Book and Colonial Power ‘Recollecting a passage I had read in the life of Columbus, when he was amongst the Indians in Mexico or Peru, where, on some occasion, he frightened them, by telling them of certain events in the heavens, I had recourse to the same expedient…I menaced him and the rest: I told them God lived there, and that he was angry with them, and they must not quarrel so; that they were all brothers, and if they did not leave off, and go away quietly, I would take the book (pointing to the Bible), read, and tell God to make them dead. This was something like magic. The clamour immediately ceased.’ (Ch.11)

  13. Equiano as Text Slave Narrative & Contemporaries Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) James Albert UkawsawGronniosawA Narrative of the Most remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert UkawsawGronniosaw, an African Prince, As related by himself (1772) John MarrantA Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black (1785) OttobahCugoano, Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species (1787) Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects (1773)

  14. Equiano as Text Lisa Lowe, Intimacies of Four Continents (2015) “The intense social value accorded the autobiographical genre illustrates how liberal emancipation required a literary narrative of the self-authoring autonomous individual to be distilled out of the heteronomous collective subjectivity of colonial slavery. [. . .] Autobiography, a genre of liberal political narrative that affirms individual right, may precisely contribute to the “forgetting” of the collective subject of colonial slavery” (p.50)

  15. Equiano as Text ‘I ought to entreat your pardon for addressing to you a work so wholly devoid of literary merit; but, as the production of an unlettered African, who is actuated by the hope of becoming an instrument towards the relief of his suffering countrymen, trust that such a man, pleading in such a cause will be acquitted of boldness and presumption.’ (Opening Letter)

  16. Equiano as Text ‘No peace is given To us enslav’d, but custody severe; And stripes and arbitrary punishment Inflicted—What peace can we return? But to our power, hostility and hate; Untam’d reluctance, and revenge, tho’ slow, Yet ever plotting how the conqueror least May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice In doing what we most in suff’ring feel.’ (Ch.5)

  17. Equiano as Text ‘But by changing your conduct, and treating your slaves as men, every cause of fear would be banished.’ (Ch.5)

  18. The Case for Abolition ‘Indeed every thing here, and all their treatment of me, made me forget that I was a slave. The language of these people resembled ours so nearly, that we understood each other perfectly’ ‘I always found somebody I understood until I came to the sea coast’ (Ch.2)

  19. The Case for AbolitionStephanie Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery (2007) ‘At this juncture, however, in place of the dreaded experience of incorporation into a new African community—an experience nonetheless familiar from hearsay—some captives found themselves sent to the waterside markets. Captivity for these unfortunates was not a temporary status while they were en route to the less vulnerable position of the slave (one who, though debased, “belonged” to a community). Rather, theirs was a “social death,” a form of exile to which no end was foreseeable. They inhabited a new category of marginalization, one not of extreme alienation within the community, but rather of absolute exclusion from any community.’ (p.30)

  20. The Case for AbolitionTrade Opportunities ‘Population, the bowels and surface of Africa, abound in valuable and useful returns; the hidden treasures of centuries will be brought to light and into circulation. Industry, enterprize, and mining, will have their full scope, proportionably as they civilize. In a word, it lays open an endless field of commerce to the British manufactures and merchant adventurer. The manufacturing interest and the general interests are synonymous. The abolition of slavery would be in reality an universal good.’

  21. The Case for Abolition • Slave Trade Act of 1807 • - Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1944) • Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 • 20 million pounds reparations (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/) • 13th Amendment U.S. Constitution 1865

  22. Kara Walker, FonsAmericanus (2019) ‘a gift…to the heart of an empire that redirected the fates of the world.’