Tag Archives: subaltern histories

Mobile Slavery in a Global Age: From Trepanning to Trafficking

30 Sep

Trepanning/trepanned seems to have an interesting lineage. There are two meanings of trepanning, the first, also known as trephination, or making a burr hole, is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull. This horrifying and ancient form of neurosurgery was often carried out in order to let evil spirits escape from the sufferer, or to treat a compression or swelling in the brain.

The second meaning derives from  trepan as an archaic verb to entice, ensnare, swindle or trap. And a noun: a trickster or a swindler.

 

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Anti-Saccharite Cultures v) Black London and Testimony

30 Sep

In this, the fifth and final blog entry on anti-saccharite cultures, I consider the importance of the presence of former slaves and slave narratives to the anti-saccharite movement.

Adam Hochschild records that by the 1780s there were upwards of five thousand black men, women and children in London. The British, attempting to undermine American colonist ‘property’, offered emancipation to any slave who abandoned their American owner. Many of these former American slaves arrived in Britain attached to military units soon to be discharged from service. Others bought their freedom after a period of service as domestic slaves for wealthy families, or managed to escape from bondage.  Although the majority of black people who living in London were unaccounted for by the general public, there were a number of exceptions. Below, I introduce two Atlantic creoles whose experiences, achievements and reputations became integral to the anti-saccharite movement:

Olaudah Equiano 

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Anti-Saccharite Cultures iv) Radical Food as a Matter of Taste

27 Sep

“The links between First World “taste” and Third World suffering are understood by the producing nations and it has become evident that increasingly their destiny has become, in effect, a secondary effect of shifts in First World consumption patterns” (Daniel Miller 1995:3).

“Oh ye who at your ease sip the blood-sweetn’d beverage”(Southey, 1797)

Integral to the slave sugar boycott were changing ideas about food consumption. The blood-sugar topos (the ‘guilt trope’ and idea that sweetened drinks of tea, coffee and chocolate could suddenly become nauseating as they were linked to the blood of slaves) is considered by Timothy Morton to have been part of a wider culture of radical food. The guilt and horror of eating human flesh by association was supplemented by an increasing sympathy for bodies in pain. According to Thomas Laquer (1990) an intensified public sympathy for bodies in pain percolated society through scientific discourse.  Biological evidence of maladies and suffering derived from rigorous attempts at objective autopsy reports and in the ‘realistic’ documentation and depiction of the body and its organs.

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