Slavery and Freedom in the Atlantic World

History 103U.002

Fall 2013
Day & Time: 
Th 10-12P

Slavery and the slave trade transformed the Atlantic into a complex zone of interaction uniting North and South America, Europe, and Africa in the wake of Columbus’s famous voyage.  Between 1500 and 1820 more than three out of four immigrants to the Americas were Africans. The goods that flowed through the region were in large part produced by enslaved peoples, sent to meet the demands of societies supported by slavery, or purchased with earnings on slave-produced products. Slavery was at the heart of both the development of a globalized capitalist system familiar to us today and the creation of liberal democratic republics in the Americas.  What is the relationship between “slavery” and “freedom” in the Atlantic world?  What is the connection between early modern slavery and ongoing human trafficking in our own time?  Will human bondage always be with us?  This course offers a survey of different forms of slavery, indenture, and captivity that affected the lives of Africans, Europeans, and Indians in the early modern Atlantic world, as well as a consideration of their legacies in the present.  Topics include comparative approaches to Indian vs. African slavery; diaspora, identities, and cultures of free and enslaved populations of African descent; productive and reproductive labor; early modern race and racism; the Age of Revolutions and contests over rights in the new republics; abolition, human rights, and the transition from slavery to freedom; and the contemporary problem of “modern-day slavery.”  We will use a variety of primary and secondary sources to consider both global economic forces and what they meant for individuals—their life chances, families, cultures, and beliefs, as well as strategies for resistance and rebellion.

Elena Schneider is an assitant professor in the Department of History at UC Berkeley.  Her research focuses race, slavery and empire in Cuba and the Atlantic world of the 18th century.  Before coming  to Berkeley, Prof. Schneider held a NEH Posdoctoral Fellowship at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and taught at the College of William and Mary.

Course Books

Modern Slavery: A Beginner's Guide by Kevin Bales, Zoe Trodd, and Alex Kent Williamson One World Publications. ISBN: 978-1851688159 Required
Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route by Saidiya Hartman Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN: 978-0374531157 Required
Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation by Rebecca J. Scott Harvard University Press. ISBN: 978-0674047747 Required
Chica da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteenth Century by Júnia Ferreira Furtado Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-0521711555 Required
Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World by John Thornton Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-0521627245 Required
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup Dover Publications. ISBN: 978-0486411439 Optional