Slavery, Race, Revolutionary Abolitionism Yesterday and Today
Workshop organised by Françoise Vergès and Marcus Rediker
This workshop is organised by Françoise Vergès and Marcus Rediker as part of Global South(s) Chair's and sponsored by the Collège d'études mondiales/FMSH and the University of Pittsburgh.
At its heart the abolition of slavery has always been a revolutionary project. It sought to destroy slavery and the power of the slave-owning ruling class; to put an end to racism and colonialism; and to establish freedom and equality. This struggle, which was historically embodied in the Haitian Revolution, informed marooning, insurrections, the Underground Railroad, and later, the struggle against lynching and forced labor.
Rebellious slaves were of course the first abolitionists, but peoples of European descent joined the fight. The struggle against slavery influenced a variety of other movements, as, for example, workers battled capitalist exploitation and women fought for rights and universal suffrage. Movements against prisons and capital punishment now claim the mantle of abolitionism.
At the same time a more conservative element of abolitionism was actively complicit with post-slavery colonization and the politics of cultural assimilation, reparations for slave-owners, and a failure to protect the rights of freedmen and women. This side of abolitionism represented another disciplinary practice.
This workshop will evaluate the past, present, and future of revolutionary abolitionism, in France and around the world, highlighting new areas of scholarship in the continuities of slavery, race, and resistance from the origins of anti-slavery to Black Lives Matter. Our goal is to assess the legacy of revolutionary abolitionism and its relevance for current struggles.