Abstract

This paper analyzes the impact of the determining circumstances of slavery and conversion to Christianity on how Philip Quaque, Phillis Wheatley, and Samuel Ajayi Crowther—missionaries and emancipated slaves from West Africa who wrote on their Atlantic experiences in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries—conceived Africa and Africans. It is proposed that the grand historiographic resistance/domination theme that is typically applied to discussing the Africanist literary writing of the slavery era forecloses the appreciation of works that do not privilege standard oppositional tropes in their evaluation of Africa's contacts with the rest of the world. Africa's fate in history concerned Philip Quaque but not in the form that maintains the continuation of a pre-Christian tradition. Phillis Wheatley's enslaved "Ethiopian" avoids maledictory tropes as she articulates her desires for a fulfilled life because her self-conception is not in opposition to her masters but to untrue Christians. The hero of Samuel Ajayi Crowther's short emancipation autobiography does not pose his African being as the negation of those who enslaved him but the continued fulfillment of the truth of the Christian gospel.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2044
Print ISSN
0034-5210
Pages
pp. 1-24
Launched on MUSE
2009-12-03
Open Access
No
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