Empire, Sovereignty, and Labor
in the Age of Global Abolition

Conference Overview


This international conference brings scholars together in consideration of the entangled and global histories of empire and labor in the age of slavery’s abolition. Global abolition processes that gained prominence in the wake of the Haitian Revolution, the end of the British slave trade, and the rise of Spanish American anti-slavery republics were accompanied by the emergence of new forms of dependency and unfree labor. We seek to better understand the significance of these transformations through a focus that moves beyond a study of nation-states and toward a focus upon the global circulation of ideas and people. 


Questions of continuity and disruption within labor regimes remain essential to comprehending the full implications of the rise of liberalism, nationalism, and abolitionism itself. The conference is open to scholars who seek to explore and challenge canonical views that rely upon a master narrative of abolitionism as foundational in the formation of freedom. We particularly seek to highlight scholarship that reconsiders relationships between imperial formations, the suppression of the slave trade and slavery, and the (re)invention of regimes of forced labor in the long nineteenth century. 


Toward this end, this two-day conference will feature panel presentations in which participants will offer brief comments contextualizing their pre-circulated papers (which audience members will have read beforehand) followed by commentary and discussion. The event will end with a concluding roundtable that will provide an assessment of ongoing conversations throughout the conference and outline an agenda for the historiography of global abolitionism. 


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