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The Black Experiences in the Wider Atlantic Lecture Series Presents: Imagining Freedom: Black Atlantic Communities in Seville

Tuesday, March 26, 2024
6:00 p.m.
Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
The Black Experiences in the Wider Atlantic Lecture Series Presents: Imagining Freedom: Black Atlantic Communities in Seville
Imagining Freedom: Black Atlantic Communities in Seville

Abstract: This talk explores a history of ideas and hopes about freedom in the early Spanish Atlantic through the lives and affairs of enslaved and liberated Black people who lived in a central parish of late-sixteenth-century Sevilla. The talk traces varied conversations and fractured memories about paths to liberation from slavery among free, enslaved, and liberated Black populations in Sevilla and the existence of mutual aid practices that sometimes spanned vast distances across the Atlantic world. Assembling diverse archival materials that catalogue how hundreds of free and liberated Black men and women crossed the Atlantic Ocean as passengers with royal licenses on ships also brings into relief fragmentary evidence of spheres of communication between free Black residents of Sevilla with kin and associates in the Spanish Atlantic world, especially through relays of word of mouth and epistolary networks. These findings reveal that Black residents of Sevilla often had access to a world of letters and communication. Such Atlantic ties and fractured community memories of liberations from slavery inevitably impacted enslaved Black Sevilla-dwellers' ideas and hopes about liberty. The talk explores how some enslaved Black women, who remained trapped in captivity for most (if not all) of their lives, sometimes also became members of an emerging lettered Black public sphere in late sixteenth-century Sevilla and shaped the meanings of freedom and slavery through their daily practices and interactions with imperial institutions.

Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library