‘Chords of freedom’Commemoration, ritual and British transatlantic slavery
Subject Area: History
BIC Category: Folk & traditional music
Published: March 2007
234 x 156 mm
Publisher: Manchester University Press
How should we as Britons remember transatlantic slavery? How has slavery been remembered in the past? ‘Chords of freedom’ sets out to answer these questions and, in doing so, traces the way in which British transatlantic slavery has been absorbed into the nation’s collective memory.
By combining two current historiographical preoccupations - the construction of public memory and British transatlantic slavery - this fascinating book focuses on the way in which the British traditionally have been taught to view transatlantic slavery through the moral triumph of abolition. The author traces the construction of this national history through a number of case studies, including visual images, literary memorials (the competing accounts of the anti-slavery movement produced by Thomas Clarkson and Robert and Samuel Wilberforce), monument-memorials, galleries and museums, and commemorative rituals from the nineteenth century to the present day. A separate chapter also considers how Britain’s example in abolishing first the slave trade (1807) and then colonial slavery (1833-34) impacted on the rituals of the American anti-slavery movement, and served as a convenient symbol of the potential of freedom in the British West Indies.
‘Chords of freedom’ offers valuable new insights into the way in which a ‘culture of abolition’ took root in Britain, and how our views of transatlantic slavery and figures like William Wilberforce have been revised and amended to reflect the changing demands of a series of ‘present days’. Its cross-disciplinary approach will appeal to a broad spectrum of specialists, as well as to undergraduates and postgraduates.
List of illustrations
One Frames of Remembrance: Benjamin Robert Haydon and The Anti-Slavery Convention, 1840
Two Literary Memorials: Clarkson’s History and The Life of William Wilberforce
Three Sites of Memory: Abolitionist Monuments and the Politics of Identity
Four Abolitionist Rituals: Celebrations and Commemorations
Five Sites of Memory: Transatlantic Slavery and the Museum Experience
Six Transatlantic Perspectives
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