James Spady Discussion
Call for Papers
South Carolina, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, African History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Slavery


In preparation for a volume of essays to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the “Denmark Vesey Conspiracy” of 1822, the Carolina Lowcountry in the Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the College of Charleston will hold a small conference on enslaved and free black anti-slavery, February 8-10, 2019.

Keynote speakers will include Bernie Powers (author of Black Charlestonians) and Michael Moore (executive director of the International African American Museum). Other featured participants include Manisha Sinha, Douglas Egerton, and Rebecca Shumway.

Known to scholars mainly as a conspiracy of Carolina slaves, the “Denmark Vesey Conspiracy” also ensnared free black people and should be treated as a part of the broader black anti-slavery movement. Some of the rebels were aware of the Missouri Compromise debates over slavery. They compared Carolina whites to those national leaders who they thought wanted to end slavery. Some of the rebels were aware of the Sierra Leone colony of freed slaves and probably had known free and enslaved people who emigrated there in 1821. Some were aware of revolutionary Haiti. Some were born in Africa. In the truest sense, there were African, American, and Atlantic dimensions to the 1822 rebels’ organizing.

We welcome proposals seeking to understand black anti-slavery in the wider Atlantic world, including but not limited to Africa, the Caribbean, and Carolina. Proposals may include but are not limited to:

Rebellions in Africa

Archives of rebellion

Women in rebellions

Information networks

Religion and spirituality

Empire and colonization

The archive of antislavery

African resistance strategies

Cultural memory of rebellion

Gender/sexuality and rebellion

Rebellions & the Middle Passage

Criminalization of antislavery activity

Legacies of the repression of rebellions

Rebellions against the internal slave trade

Resistance and the internal (U.S.) slave trade

Haiti and black anti-slavery in the Atlantic World

Black activists and the politics of resistance to slavery

Black antislavery and subsequent social movements (such as #BLM)…

Charleston is an apt setting for these discussions. Nearby to Stono Creek, the namesake of one of the most significant slave rebellions in American history, Charleston was also a major entrepot for enslaved people trafficked from elsewhere in the Atlantic world. The College of Charleston was founded shortly before Vesey’s birth, and sits in the midst of the neighborhoods in which the uprising planners lived and worked. Tours will be organized as part of the conference.

To propose a paper, send a CV and a 250 word abstract to James O’Neil Spady ( by February 28, 2018. Authors of accepted proposals will be asked to submit their completed essays by January 8, 2019. The complete essays will be distributed to conference attendees in advance, workshopped during sessions, and considered for a proposed volume marking the 200th anniversary of the Vesey Conspiracy in 2022.

Contact Info: 

James O'Neil Spady, Assoc. Prof. of American History, Soka University of America

Contact Email: