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Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice Newsletter

Vol. 1 No. 1 July 2013


Dear Reader,

This is the first issue of a regular newsletter of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ). We hope to use this platform as a way to inform our network about our activities, as well as to facilitate discussion, comments, and general ideas around the issues of slavery and justice.

Thanks to everyone for all their support

Professor Anthony Bogues, Center Director
Shana Weinberg, Center Manager
Carolyn Hyman, Program & Outreach Coordinator


The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) is a scholarly research center with a public educational mission.   Recognizing that racial and chattel slavery were central to the historical formation of the Americas, the CSSJ will create a space for the interdisciplinary study of:

  • historical forms of slavery
  • how the legacies of slavery shape our contemporary world
  • contemporary forms of human bondage

To further this study, CSSJ will establish research programs designed to foster deeper understandings about the issues of justice, human rights, and freedom today.

In the News. . .

Slavery Unchained: Brown's Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice confronts the university's — and America's — shame in the Providence Phoenix. Read more

Director Anthony Bogues traveled to France and the UK to give seminars and public lectures on the legacy of slavery and develop international collaborations for the Center.  Read more

Prof. Nicholas Draper of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project discusses the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice’s inaugural symposium. Read more

The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University are proud to announce the first ever Graduate Student Colloquium on Slavery, to be held from October 18-19th, 2013.  Abstracts are now being accepted. Read more

Beyond Sweetness: New Histories of Sugar in the Early Atlantic World at the John Carter Brown Library, OCTOBER 24-27, 2013. Read more


2012-13 Highlights

During the 2012-2013 academic year, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice sponsored events around the theme of Ships of Bondage, Freedom, and the Knowledges of the Enslaved.  We explored this topic through a number of mediums from film screenings like Django Unchained, to musical performances of contemporary “Negro Spirituals” with the Marian Anderson String Quartet, to Professor Marcus Rediker’s groundbreaking research on the Amistad rebellion from the perspective of the enslaved Africans. We also held our inaugural workshop. To view the full archival listing of 2012-2013 events and to watch full length recordings of select programs please visit:


MASQ Performance

Marian Anderson String Quartet 
April 24, 2013

Django Unchained Discussion

Django Unchained
April 29, 2013

Marcus Rediker

Debra Lee Lecture Series: Prof. Marcus Rediker
February 25, 2013

Workshop:— The Slave: Freedom on My Mind/Knowledge/Memory/Arts of the Enslaved

Envisioning Emancipation

Photo Credit: Temple University Press

On May 10-11, 2013, CSSJ hosted a two day workshop on the topic: The Slave: Freedom on My Mind/Knowledge/Memory /And the Arts of the Enslaved. The workshop sought to open up a conversation about how the enslaved created different forms of new knowledges and the possible methods scholars may deploy in grappling with this kind of knowledge formation. Workshop sessions included: Slave political knowledge focusing on the idea and practices of freedom; slave religious and botanical knowledges; the various artistic creations of the enslaved and finally ways in which societies are today memorializing slavery. Participants included scholars from Brazil, the Caribbean, England, South Africa and the United States. This event inaugurated a series of annual workshop/conferences which the Center will hold. In 2014 the Center will hold a major International Conference on Slavery. 

Public History & Exhibitions

Fight for Freedom

Ships of Bondage and the Fight for Freedom will run from May 9th through September 2013. The Brown Center for Public Humanities Carriage House Gallery is open during the week, from 9:30AM-4PM. If you would like to plan a group visit, contact Shana_Weinberg@Brown.edu.

This exhibition tells the story of slave insurrections on three vessels including the Amistad, the Meermin, and the Sally, exploring the struggle of the enslaved to resist captivity, gain freedom, and return to their homeland. When viewing the exhibit, the visitor is invited to reflect on the transformation of ships from vessels of trade and leisure to vessels of bondage. 

Photo Credit: Rythum Vinoben www.rythumvinoben.com/

Photo Credit: Rythum Vinoben www.rythumvinoben.com

Many groups have visited the exhibit, including most recently engineers participating in the Brown International Advanced Research Institute (BIARI) Connections and Flows convened by Professor Geri Augusto and Professor Chris Bull during June 2013.  Participants came as part of larger discussion on "Technologies of Hubris." The exhibit helped them to think about the impact of their work on communities today, and how the legacies of history continue to shape our world.

Future Programming

Programming for the 2013-3014 will be organized around the themes Free/Unfree and Race Today. This anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation will bring a number of events. Check back with the Center's calendar in August for more details. 


September 2013

Ongoing  Exhibition: Ships of Bondage and the Fight for Freedom in the Carriage House Gallery

October 2013

October 17, 2013
Searching for Freedom featuring the Marian Anderson String Quartet's original musical works based on "Negro Spirituals", as well as dramatic readings from the Black Abolitionist papers.

October 18 & 19, 2013
‘Slave – Citizen – Human’: Graduate Student Colloquium on Slavery

October 24-27, 2013
Beyond Sweetness: New Histories of Sugar in the Early Atlantic World at the John Carter Brown Library

November 2013

November 1, 2013
Lincoln and Emancipation: New Considerations
Lecture and Workshop

December 2013

Fatal Invention:  How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century
Lecture and Workshop


February 2014

Film Series: Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle

March 2014

Annual Debra L. Lee Lecture on Slavery and Justice

April 2014

Free/Unfree exhibition opening

May 2014

Symposium on Racial Legacies of Slavery and the American Criminal Justice System

Book Highlights

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Pro-Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, is an internationally reputed historian. He is a member of the International Task Force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project and is principal consultant for resource material in the schools programme. He is also Consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme, and an advisor to the UN World Culture Report. Sir Hilary has received numberous awards including an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Glasgow in recognition of his major contribution to academic research into the transatlantic slave trade and plantation slavery. 

This book is the first scholarly work that looks comprehensively at the reparations discussion in the Caribbean. Britain's Black Debt examines the origins and development of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade together with legal principles which governed this trade. He concludes that Britain has a case of reparations to answer which the Caribbean should litigate.

Envisioning Emancipation

In their pioneering book, renowned photographic historian Deborah Willis and historian of slavery Barbara Krauthamer have amassed 150 photographs—some never before published—from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s. The authors vividly display the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation, providing a perspective on freedom and slavery and a way to understand the photos as documents of engagement, action, struggle, and aspiration.

Envisioning Emancipation illustrates what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era. From photos of the enslaved on plantations and African American soldiers and camp workers in the Union Army to Juneteenth celebrations, slave reunions, and portraits of black families and workers in the American South, the images in this book challenge perceptions of slavery. They show not only what the subjects emphasized about themselves but also the ways Americans of all colors and genders opposed slavery.

Filled with powerful images of lives too often ignored or erased from historical records, Envisioning Emancipation provides a new perspective on American culture in general.

Marcus Wood is a painter, performance artist, film maker, and a Professor of English at the University of Sussex. For the Last thirty years he has been writing books and making art focusing on the ways in which the traumatic memory of slavery and colonisation has been encoded across the cultures of the African Diaspora. CSSJ was pleased to host Professor Wood at the May 2013 Symposuim as a panelist sharing his thoughts on the Arts and Aesthetics of the Enslaved and Envisioning Freedom. 

Black Milk is the first in-depth analysis of the visual archives that effloresced around slavery in Brazil and North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In its latter stages the book also explores the ways in which the museum cultures of North America and Brazil have constructed slavery over the last hundred years. These institutional legacies emerge as startlingly different from each other at almost every level.

Working through comparative close readings of a myriad art objects - including prints, photographs, oil paintings, watercolours, sculptures, ceramics, and a host of ephemera - Black Milk celebrates just how radically alternative Brazilian artistic responses to Atlantic slavery were. Despite its longevity and vastness, Brazilian slavery as a cultural phenomenon has remained hugely neglected, in both academic and popular studies, particularly when compared to North American slavery. 

Your Thoughts

At the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice we are interested in collaborative programming, and providing a space to respond to issues important to you.  Please share your feedback from previous events, or ideas for new programming at: slaveryjustice@brown.edu.