LECTURE: New College of Florida Global Wednesday Talk - Oct. 27th, 4-5 pm (EST) Prof. David Harvey, "Tropical Despotism: Slavery and Enlightened Reform in the French Caribbean"

Manuel Lopez's picture
October 27, 2021
Florida, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Humanities, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Race / Ethnic Studies

Title: "Tropical Despotism: Slavery and Enlightened Reform in the French Caribbean"

Abstract: The relationship of the Enlightenment to slavery and colonialism in the New World has given rise to a great deal of scholarly debate, much of it at a fairly abstract level. In this talk, I will attempt to bring greater clarity to this debate by focusing on Enlightenment-inspired reform initiatives proposed or attempted by agents of the French colonial state to mitigate the harshness of slavery through legal regulation and to encourage transitions from enslaved to free wage labor. I will argue that, although they were motivated by humanitarian idealism, the scope of these initiatives was limited by the reluctance of their advocates to destabilize French imperial interests and by the furious opposition of proslavery colonial elites.

Professor Harvey’s primary area of interest is the history of modern France and Germany. He is the author of Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945 (2001), Beyond Enlightenment: Occultism and Politics in Modern France (2005) and The French Enlightenment and Its Others: The Mandarin, the Savage, and the Invention of the Human Sciences (2012).

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Contact Info: 

Manuel Lopez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
New College of Florida
Office: ACE 204
Phone: (941) 487-4317
Nunneries of Bhutan (current research project)


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