The conference “Non-Traditional Slaveholding in the Atlantic World” takes place on July 11-12, 2014, at the University of London (Senate House). The plenary speakers will be Seymour Drescher (University of Pittsburgh), “Confessing Conversos and Practicing Jews Navigating the World of Atlantic Slavery,” and Brent Weisman (University of South Florida), “Making Sense of Non-traditional Slaveholding: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approaches.”
Description: Studies of slaveholding in the Atlantic World traditionally imagine a particular type of slave holder–a wealthy landowning white man who has extensive political and cultural power, his status in the community defined by or at least enhanced by his slaveholding. He has a set of attitudes towards his slaves and their economic and cultural work that he shares with others of his class. This conference sets out to challenge these preconceptions by bringing together scholars working on different regions of the Atlantic world to discuss a hitherto neglected area of the study of African American slavery: non-traditional slaveholding.
The conference is comparative in nature and will explore significant issues such as: what counts as ‘slavery’ in this context? How widespread was the phenomenon of slaveholding among the non-white population? Are non-traditional slave holders distinct from white slave holders in their attitudes and behavior towards the institution and towards their slaves? To what extent did regional specificities, historical contexts and particular legal frameworks encourage slaveholding among non-traditional slave owners and influence the nature of the bondage? Do slave culture and slave agency emerge differently from a study of non-traditional slaveholders? Is the line between slavery and freedom more blurred? What are the epistemological consequences of acknowledging slave ownership by non-traditional slaveholders? How does it alter our understanding of ‘the color line’?