Q&A: Edward Rugemer, author of Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance in the Early Atlantic World

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Today at The Junto, we’re featuring an interview with Ed Rugemer about his new book, of Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance in the Early Atlantic World, which Casey Schmitt reviewed yesterday. Ed Rugemer is an Associate Professor of History and African American Studies and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of History at Yale University. A historian of slavery and abolition, Rugemer’s first book The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War was published by Louisiana State University Press and his work has appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly, Journal of Southern History, Slavery and Abolition, and the Journal of the Civil War Era.

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Review: Edward Rugemer, Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance in the Early Atlantic World

Today The Junto reviews Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance in the Early Atlantic World by Yale Associate Professor of African American Studies and History, Edward Rugemer. Stay tuned for a Q&A with the author tomorrow!

Historians have long argued that enslaved people’s resistance to bondage shaped the political economies, legal structures, and societies of the early Atlantic World. As a comparative history of slavery in Barbados, Jamaica, and South Carolina, Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance coheres around “the existential struggle between the master and the slave” that forms the core dialectic between control and resistance at the heart of slavery (1). Edward Rugemer places these slave societies in comparison because, as he argues, they developed out of the same legal genealogy rooted in seventeenth-century English imperial expansion but experienced the end of slavery in dramatically different ways. In just over three hundred pages, the book traces the dialectic between control and resistance in these societies “after an epic struggle of eight generations” (2). Rugemer’s approach combines a synthesis of a rich body of scholarship on the development of legal systems of bondage with strategic archival research. And, as the book demonstrates, the “combination of similarities and differences” between Jamaica and South Carolina yields “a novel approach to understanding the political dynamics of slave resistance and their relation to the law” (3).

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Flashing Before My Eyes

Some of the chapter drafts I’ve found in my office.

As I spent the final months of 2018 completing the copy editing and page proof process for my book, I found myself surprised at how easy it was to say goodbye to the book. Before last summer, I assumed I would find myself despondent at the thought of never being able to work on it again, that I would worry about finding typos or other errors, that I wouldn’t be able to make final decisions on anything. But other than the stress of actually going through the manuscript in a short period of time, I’ve instead felt excitement to check items off the final to-do list.

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New Orleans at 300: A Year in Review and a Look to the Future

nola2018-Featured-Thumbnail.jpgAs 2018 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on this year and its meaning for a place that has become near and dear to my heart (and in-progress dissertation): New Orleans. Founded by the French in 1718, Louisiana’s largest city has been celebrating its tricentennial for months and in a way that only New Orleans can. Ranked number one on the New York Times “52 Places to Go in 2018” list, New Orleans continues to attract first-timers curious to discover “America’s most foreign city.” Repeat visitors, myself included, just can’t get enough, although my trips have taken me beyond Bourbon Street, from the attic of the city’s colonial-era Ursuline convent to the notarial archives of Orleans Parish, hidden within a twenty-story office building a stone’s throw from the Superdome. My own excursions aside, how exactly have we gone about celebrating, remembering, and thinking about the history of early New Orleans in 2018? What does the future hold?

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CFP: The Fifteenth Annual Yale University American Art Graduate Student Symposium

 

Encounters, Entanglements, and Exchanges
Fifteenth Annual Yale American Art History Graduate Student Symposium
Yale University, New Haven, 6 April 2019
Proposals due by 1 February 2019

Points of encounter can occur across time and space. In colonial Mexico, blue and white earthenware vessels made in the city of Puebla responded to East Asian hard-paste porcelain. At the same time, ceramic manufacturers in China adapted designs that catered to pan-American tastes, and both John Bartlam’s South Carolina pottery and the American China Manufactory in Philadelphia produced their own soft-paste porcelain wares on the eve of the American Revolution. More recently, Carrie Mae Weems’s The Hampton Project reexamined a nineteenth-century vocational school that served as a cultural crossroads for formerly enslaved African Americans, American Indians, and white Americans to raise pressing questions of race, imperialism, and nationalism in the twenty-first century. These points of convergence between individuals, groups, places, and objects often instigate shifts in creative production with lasting and global resonances. The interaction of disparate cultures offers a rich nexus for artistic creation. Yet such encounters are also inseparable from the shifting dynamics of power that operate along gendered, racial, economic, and political lines. What can exchanges and entanglements reveal about the nature of encounter? How do encounters shape exchanges? In what ways do exchanges propagate new encounters?

The Fifteenth Annual Yale University American Art Graduate Student Symposium invites papers that interrogate the dialectical relationship between encounter and exchange and explore the legacies of cultural intersection. We invite submissions that address art across North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, that engage a range of critical perspectives, and that speak to a variety of time periods and artistic practices.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
• Micro-histories that address a specific instance of encounter
• Global encounters with the notion of ‘Americanness’
• Collaborations that problematize narratives of ‘influence’ across social, cultural, or political hierarchies
• Impact of religious proselytization and conversion in the arts
• Gift exchange, diplomacy, and trade
• Appropriation, fetishism, hybridity, and mimicry
• Contact zones, borderlands, intersectionality, and peripheries
• Power dynamics within systems of colonialism, racism, homophobia, or sexism
• Immigration, migrants, and refugees
• Authorship and ownership
• Tourism and travel narratives
• Activism, coalition building, and the arts
• Networks created via technology, globalization, and media

Interested participants are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 350 words along with a CV to americanist.symposium@gmail.com by 1 February 2019. Accepted participants will be notified in mid-February. Accommodations will be provided for all graduate student speakers in New Haven, Connecticut.

Interview with Michael McGandy

Michael McGandy is Senior Editor and Editorial Director of the Three Hills imprint at Cornell University Press. He tweets as @michaelmcgandy.

JUNTO: Can you outline the review and production schedule for a first book?

Michael McGandy: If I am talking to a scholar who has just wrapped up his or her dissertation and is prepared to move on to developing the book, I state as a reliable truism that the bound book is four years off. And that presumes all goes well and smoothly! The work of revising the dissertation to make it into a book manuscript is indeterminate and the further work that will need to be done in response to reader reports and then the acquiring editor’s direction is also indeterminate. Those are, as I tend to say, the x-factors. What is pretty well fixed is that external review, in-house processing through Editorial and Faculty Boards, and contracting requires four months. What is also fixed is that producing the book and getting it out into the world on its publication date (the date when it goes live for sale, which is typically four weeks after the bound book is in the warehouse) is 11 months. So, even before a person considers the time needed for new research, revising existing chapters, and adding new material, 15 months are tied up with process. (Now “tied up” is an unkind phrase for key elements of making a book both excellent and saleable! But I know that that is how people scheduling out their early professional calendars tend to think.) When one considers that fact and then all the work that needs to go into developing a manuscript—even as one pays the bills and occasionally takes a break to have some non-scholarly fun—four years go very quickly and often turn out to be barely enough time.

Reflecting on that and taking the opportunity to editorialize, I do think that the well-reviewed first book as the non-negotiable standard for professional success in a tenure-track framework (on the standard six-year schedule) needs to be rethought. Four to six years do fly by, especially when we consider all the other important and engrossing things that usually come with these first years after the PhD (first jobs, new homes in new places, family, etc.). I am not going to name names or institutions, but in this context I think of the positive examples of some recent authors of mine who were tenured without first books and who were given the extra time to work on their book projects. Their research and writing were augmented because the tenure pressure was off and the projects were transformed (for the better) because the authors had six or seven years to make the book excellent. On the whole, I do not think that the schedule for tenure matches very well with the time needed for great scholarship. Filling out the CV sometimes becomes the driving concern and to the detriment of the work itself. Continue reading

Q&A with Nick Bunker, author of Young Benjamin Franklin

[Today we are happy to share a Q&A with Nick Bunker, author of the new Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity (Knopf, 2018). Tomorrow our own Sara G. will post her review of the book.]

  1. BunkerStarting with his own autobiography, there have been many treatments of Benjamin Franklin’s life. How did you approach the project when you were aware of this vast literature, and how did you attempt to carve out your own space?

Yes, library shelves are crammed with books about Franklin, but the literature is biased towards the second half of  his life, and his achievements as politician, diplomat, and man of letters. The period up to age 40 has come to be neglected, and the same is true of his scientific career. This is because – for the most part – in chronicling Franklin’s early life biographers have preferred to rely entirely on his autobiography. But written though they are with panache, Franklin’s memoirs are really a sketch or an essay, not a rounded narrative. He mentions his scientific work only in passing and he skips through his youth in an episodic, impressionistic way. So I began by working my way through the autobiography, and Franklin’s early writings, compiling lists of  questions left unanswered, references unexplained, and incidents where other sources might be available. Then I went in search of  material to fill in the gaps.  The central question I was asking was this: just why was Benjamin Franklin so ambitious, and so energetic? In the 1740s an opponent called Franklin “an uneasy spirit” – which he was! – and I wanted to find out why this was so. Continue reading

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