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CAAS 201 - CAAS 201 Monday The Form of the Slave Narrative...

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CAAS 201 Monday, January 14, 2008 The Form of the Slave Narrative Why did Europeans enslave Africans? Complex interaction of: The racial ideologies of the English Africans as “heathens”/blackness as “sin” and therefore outsiders Hamitic myth: Slavery and sin linked in English mind Noah’s 3 sons, Ham gets the curse Never become part of society, POW become slaves, as slaves are deprived of property and liberty and are essentially property Economic & demographic considerations Legal status followed economic and social practice, predetermined and fixed Need for workers, anyway you could get them Indentured – hired yourself out Slaves – not contractual, children born into condition of mother Slavery made more sense, you could keep workers for life, you owned them. Slavery and Freedom Slavery in the pre-colonial and early national North: Unstable, constantly needed to be remade Negotiable: not based on equality, but both masters and slaves had their own “cards to play” North was a “society with slaves” rather than a “slave society” Not plantations, or big house “Sawbuck equality” (master and slave likely to be working side-by-side) Slaves in colonial New York Often New World “creoles” (mixed culture not necessarily mixed-race) Caribbean Change names to reflect mixed culture Owned property, established an independent economy, insignificant to the larger economy in comparison to South Often allowed to choose their own masters (to remain near family or improve a bad situation) & purchase property that was often recognized by law and in practice In FREEDOM, former slaves remade themselves: New IDENTITIES New COMMUNITIES New INSTITUTIONS, group, burial grounds The Social History of the Slave Narrative Over 6000 slave narratives believed to have been published by African
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Americans Approx. 70 slave narratives were published in book form prior to the end of the Civil War (1865) Hundreds more appeared in American and British newspapers Thousands were recorded and transcribed after the abolition of slavery Especially as part of the Federal Writer’s Project in the 1930s
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