"Slave Narratives in British and French America, 1700–1848," July 14-15, 2017, London

sophie white's picture
July 14, 2017 to July 15, 2017
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Atlantic History / Studies, Slavery

This symposium, co-organized by Sophie White and Trevor Burnard, seeks to propel our thinking about how we understand the quotidian existence of enslaved people in the two biggest slave systems in the Greater Caribbean during the height of plantation slavery. Specifically, this conference focuses on alternative types of slave narratives and interrogates how such narratives were produced, the slave societies in which slave narratives existed and the meanings that we can attach to such narratives. The overall aim is to get more information about the everyday lives—including the spiritual lives—of slaves in the major two plantation empires in the Greater Caribbean. This should allow us to begin to move beyond planter narratives and accounts of slave life that outline demographic, material and economic realities in order to understand more fully enslaved persons’ lived experience. This interdisciplinary conference will be the first ever dedicated to rethinking slave narratives in comparative British and French colonial perspective and promises to be innovative, path-breaking and of profound significance. This symposium is co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Melbourne.

This event will take place at the University of Notre Dame London Global Gateway, 1-4 Suffolk Street (Northwest side of Trafalgar Square), London SW1Y 4HG.

Conference registration is free but required.

Conference Program

14 July 2017

10–10:10 a.m. 

Opening Remarks

Sophie White (University of Notre Dame) and Trevor Burnard (University of Melbourne)

10:10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Session One: Telling Stories

Dominique Rogers (Université des Antilles et de la Guyane)

“Slave Judiciary Testimonies in the French Caribbean: What To Do With Them”

Cecile Vidal (E.H.E.S.S. Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales)

“Fictions in the Archives": Slave Tales in Court in French New Orleans"

Sophie White (University of Notre Dame)

“‘He said, without being asked…’: Slave Narratives and Testimony in French Colonial Courts”

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.


1:30–3 p.m.

Session Two: European Perspectives

Amanda Capern (Hull University)

“Justice and equity: Litigant Narratives in the Early-Modern English Court of Chancery”

Miranda Spieler (American University-Paris)

“Slave Voice and the Legal Archive: The Case of Freedom Suits before the Paris Admiralty Court”

3–3:30 p.m.

Afternoon Tea

3:30–5 p.m.

Session Three: The Nineteenth-Century British Caribbean

Trevor Burnard (University of Melbourne)

“‘I Know I Have to Work’: Slave Narratives and the Moral Economy of Labour in Berbice, 1819-1834”

Anita Rupprecht (University of Brighton)

“‘This Tortola is very bad’: Re-captive African Narratives and the Colonial Archive in the British Caribbean, 1807-1828”

Reception to follow


15 July 2017

10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Session Four: Native Americans

Linford Fisher (Brown University)

"A 'Spanish Indian Squaw' in New England: Indian Ann’s Journey from Slavery to Freedom"

Brett Rushforth (University of Oregon, William & Mary Quarterly)

“‘She said her answers contained the truth’: Hearing Enslaved Voices in the Judicial Records of New France”

Margaret Newell (Ohio State University)

"In the Borderlands of Race and Freedom: Indian and African Slave Testimony in Eighteenth-Century New England"

12:30–1:30 p.m. 


1:30–3 p.m.

Session Five: Literary and Visual Testimony

Nicole Aljoe (Northwestern University)

"Reading the ‘Memoir of Florence Hall’ Through the Long Song of the Caribbean Colonial Archive"

Sarah Thomas (Birkbeck College)

“Visual Testimonies in the Age of Emancipation: Searching for the ‘invisible man’”

3 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

Afternoon Tea

3:30–5 p.m. 

Session Six: The Long View

Commentary: Emily Clark (Tulane University) and Gad Heuman (Warwick University)


Contact Info: 

Sophie White (University of Notre Dame) and Trevor Burnard (University of Melbourne)

Contact Email: