Black Africans, a Black Legend, and Challenges of interpretations.pdf - Black Africans in the British Imagination Smith Cassander L Published by

Black Africans, a Black Legend, and Challenges of interpretations.pdf

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Black Africans in the British Imagination Smith, Cassander L. Published by Louisiana State University Press Smith, Cassander L. Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World. Louisiana State University Press, 2016. Project MUSE.muse.jhu.edu/book/49177. For additional information about this book Access provided at 16 Jan 2020 22:38 GMT from Liberty University
INTRODUCTION Black Africans, a Black Legend, and Challenges of Representation T his book examines the extent to which the physical presence of black Africans in the early Atlantic world disrupted English responses to Span- ish imperialism. 1 It maps a course from sixteenth-century West Africa to sev- enteenth-century New Spain and traces the growing tension between Spain and England, fighting for imperial dominance in the Americas. Due to Spain’s more lucrative start in 1492, England played catch-up, consequently finding itself responding to Spanish imperialism through a bevy of propagandistic literature designed to discredit Spain as a vile, inhumane empire, earning the latter nation the infamous moniker of “Black Legend.” 2 English travelers to the Americas were key in producing some of the most widely circulated infor- mation about Spain’s alleged brutalities. 3 In narratives about their encounters, those travelers often described the manner in which conquistadores burned, hanged, whipped—physically tortured—native populations to subdue and enslave them. The torture reportedly was so atrocious that one of Spain’s own Dominican friars, Bartolomé de las Casas, advocated the use of sub-Saharan Africans as slaves to alleviate Native American suffering. Although he later regretted that prescription, Las Casas’s remedy illustrates the kinds of racial ideologies (predicated on cultural and geographical distinctions) that were al- ready forming throughout Europe and that would soon fuel the Atlantic slave trade. Black Africans were exported across the Atlantic in increasing numbers. The growing presence of black Africans in the Americas created rhetorical conflicts for English priests, merchants, explorers, and privateers, who sought to understand those black Africans within racial and anti-Spanish discourses. Writers on occasion replaced Native Americans with black Africans as the vic- tims of Spanish cruelty. In the material world beyond the texts, however, black Africans conducted themselves in ways contradictory to England’s anti-Span- %
2 Black Africans in the British Imagination ish rhetoric, complicating writers’ efforts to articulate their experiences in accordance with ideology and political agendas. Black Africans in the British Imagination examines how and why those first English encounters with black Africans in the early Atlantic world produced moments of narrative crisis in which writers struggled to correlate the material details of their encounters with literary, rhetorical objectives. That struggle manifests itself in the texts as

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