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Assumed Identities

The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World

Edited by John D. Garrigus and Christopher Morris; Introduction by Franklin W. Knight

Publication Year: 2010

With the recent election of the nation’s first African American president—an individual of blended Kenyan and American heritage who spent his formative years in Hawaii and Indonesia—the topic of transnational identity is reaching the forefront of the national consciousness in an unprecedented way. As our society becomes increasingly diverse and intermingled, it is increasingly imperative to understand how race and heritage impact our perceptions of and interactions with each other. Assumed Identities constitutes an important step in this direction. However, “identity is a slippery concept,” say the editors of this instructive volume. This is nowhere more true than in the melting pot of the early trans-Atlantic cultures formed in the colonial New World during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. As the studies in this volume show, during this period in the trans-Atlantic world individuals and groups fashioned their identities but also had identities ascribed to them by surrounding societies. The historians who have contributed to this volume investigate these processes of multiple identity formation, as well as contemporary understandings of them. Originating in the 2007 Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures presented at the University of Texas at Arlington, Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World examines, among other topics, perceptions of racial identity in the Chesapeake community, in Brazil, and in Saint-Domingue (colonial-era Haiti). As the contributors demonstrate, the cultures in which these studies are sited helped define the subjects’ self-perceptions and the ways others related to them.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Identity is a slippery concept. Everyone knows it exists. Everyone has it. But what is it? And—a question of special importance for historians—how does one document its existence? It presents a moving and shadowy target, always transforming, never fixed, never just one thing. As an object, it is seen differently depending on the subject’s vantage point. Put another way, identity exists both as an object and as something ...

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Introduction: Race and Identity in the New World

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pp. 1-18

Race and identity constitute an important dimension of political discourse throughout the world in the twenty-first century. Both concepts are closely affiliated with ethnicity. This should hardly be surprising. The process of globalization has dramatically intensified in the past few decades and increasingly more people are on the move. At the same time, the increase in national boundaries has ...

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“Thy Coming Fame, Ogé! Is Sure”: New Evidence on Ogé’s 1790 Revolt and the Beginnings of the Haitian Revolution

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pp. 19-45

In August 1853, Georges Boyer Vashon, a free-born African American, wrote a 359-line poem entitled "Vincent Og

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“The Child Should Be Made a Christian”: Baptism, Race, and Identity in the Seventeenth-century Chesapeake

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pp. 46-70

Late in September 1667, Virginia’s burgesses passed legislation governing a serious matter of bondage and freedom, and of religious inclusion and exclusion. The act, titled “An act declaring that baptisme of slaves doth not exempt them from bondage,” stipulated the following: “Whereas some doubts have risen whether children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety ...

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West Indian Identity in the Eighteenth Century

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pp. 71-87

What is a British West Indian? Moreover, what is a West Indian identity?1 In the West Indies, identity has always been associated with race and with colonialism and with postcolonial legacies. We can see the importance of both topics in imaginative writings on West Indian identity (or lack of it) by the most important British West Indian authors.2 We can also see it in the work of historians ...

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Illegal Enslavement and the Precariousness of Freedom in Nineteenth-century Brazil

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pp. 88-115

A law enacted on November 7, 1831, prohibited the African slave trade to Brazil. It declared free all Africans taken to the country after that date and established legal sanctions to be applied to traffickers and to those who bought captives aware of their origins in the illegal trade.1 The Brazilian parliament passed the bill mainly due to the pressure of the British government;2 however, it seems that Brazilian ...

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Rosalie of the Poulard Nation: Freedom, Law, and Dignity in the Era of the Haitian Revolution

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pp. 116-144

On December 4, 1867, the ninth day of the convention to write a new post–Civil War constitution for the state of Louisiana, delegate Edouard Tinchant rose to make a proposal. Under the Congressional Reconstruction Acts of 1867, the voters of Louisiana had elected ninety-eight delegates—half of them men of color—to a constitutional convention charged with drafting a founding document ...

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In Memoriam, Evan Anders

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pp. 145-146

This volume is dedicated to the memory of our colleague, Professor Evan (Buzz) Anders, who died on April 5, 2008. Professor Anders, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in December of 1978. While at the University of Texas he won a Walter Prescott Webb Fellowship and worked with Lewis L. Gould in Progressive Era history. A month after receiving ...

About the Contributors

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pp. 147-148

Index

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pp. 149-152


E-ISBN-13: 9781603443197
E-ISBN-10: 1603443193
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603441926
Print-ISBN-10: 1603441921

Page Count: 168
Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1
Series Title: Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures Series, published for the University of Texas at Arlington by Texas A&M University Press

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Subject Headings

  • West Indies, British -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 18th century.
  • Virginia -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 17th century.
  • America -- Race relations -- History.
  • Haiti -- History -- Revolution, 1791-1804.
  • Group identity -- America -- History.
  • Eurocentrism -- America -- History.
  • Haiti -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 18th century.
  • Nationalism -- America -- History.
  • Ethnic relations -- Religious aspects -- History -- 17th century.
  • Slave trade -- Brazil -- History -- 19th century.
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