“The Black Market: Property, Freedom, and Piracy in Martin Delany’s Blake; or, The Huts of America” examines varied forms of social and political life made possible through an economic framework of piracy. Recognizing that the hemispheric slave trade is a piratical act in the context of the novel, I propose that Delany suggests that slaves too should engage in piracy as a response to the illegal commercial activities undergirding the peculiar institution. In the novel, Blake’s act of piracy exists both at the register of the material theft of property and at the level of the symbolic restructuring of social and political order. By exploring the economic impact of Blake as pirate, Delany presents a form of Black participation in the market that disrupts the proper operations of exchange and doubly creates a Black market. Read alongside the significant historical events of the mid-nineteenth century, Blake helps frame my interest in the intersections of economic freedom and liberal principles as they come to bear on the enslaved Black subject. This mode of analysis reinvigorates of the interplay between economics and literature, forcing us to engage with analyses of power that account for commercial subjectivities emerging in the context of slavery in the Americas, and surfaces the overlooked processes of illegal exchange in the novel.


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pp. 273-300
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