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A Visual Introduction to Boycott Outspan Action and the Blood-Citrus Topos

17 Oct

Over the last two years I have been researching the work of the radical anti-apartheid and anti-racist organization, Boycot Outspan Actie (Boycott Outspan Action). Founded in 1972 in Leiden, Holland, the BOA were led by the charismatic South African exile, Esau du Plessis.  After first contacting du Plessis in 2010, I have interviewed many key BOA activists and associates in Sweden and Holland; during this time I have been fortunate enough to have access to a range of compelling sources stored in private archives and correspondence. Much of this research will be published in my thesis in 2013. Here, as a little taster, I would like to provide you with a visual introduction to the organization that reworked the blood-sugar topos into a powerful anti-apartheid weapon.

The author in conversation with the former leader of the BOA, Esau du Plessis, at his home in Sweden

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Introducing the 1791-93 slave sugar abstention campaign

26 Sep

Image

A cross section of the slave ship Brookes (1789), showing the horrific conditions of passage suffered by 482 men, women and children who were contained in the hold for the trans-Atlantic journey from the West coast of Africa to the Caribbean. Copies of this drawing were distributed by the Abolitionist Society in the UK as part of the sugar boycott.

Commodity boycotted: West Indian sugar

Specific egregious concern: The slave trade

Core themes: Enslaved labour, achieving spiritual purity, the perceived moral decline of Empire and creating moral credit and legacy, philanthropic concern, extra-parliamentary politics, romanticism, radical food politics, blood-sugar topos

Key boycotting organizations: Philadelphia & British Society of Friends, The Anti-Slavery Committee, The Abolition Committee, Amis des Noirs

Companion tactics: Petitions, buycotts (East Indian sugar), publishing witness accounts of slavery, developing a freed slave republic producing free labour commodities, civic & parliamentary debating, commercial endorsement, political networking, poetry writing and readings.

Key activist contact points: Manchester, London, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford, Sierra Leone, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, Edinburgh

Keywords:  Abstension, Moral-suasion, Purity, Complicity, Responsibility, Benevolence, Witness,  Philanthropy

Topoi: blood/sugar, tears/sugar, sweetness/bitterness

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