Join us for the next seminar in our series, featuring Matthew S. Hopper, Professor of History at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Ali A. Mazrui Senior Fellow in Global African Studies at The Africa Institute. He will present his research on “Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World, 1808-1897” on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, (12:00 noon to 02:00 pm), at The Africa Institute Auditorium (Location Map).

Abstract

Between 1808 and 1897, the British Royal Navy captured more than 1,500 slave ships and removed over 200,000 enslaved Africans from vessels in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. At least 22,000 of these Africans were captured aboard slave ships in the Indian Ocean. British officials referred to these captives as “liberated Africans,” but they were neither returned to their homes nor released near their place of capture. Instead, they were transported to the nearest court of adjudication where the slave ships were condemned, naval officers were awarded “prize money,” and the captives could be placed into contracts for indenture in British colonies. Although the Act of Abolition (1807) envisioned indenture as a method to provide training in marketable skills, in reality, most liberated Africans were placed into menial positions as agricultural laborers or domestic servants for up to 14 years.

In this new book project, Professor Hopper explores the lives of African captives removed from slave ships in the Indian Ocean. He examines the collective experience of formerly enslaved people who lived through the trauma of enslavement, dislocation, and an oceanic journey, only to have that journey interrupted and transferred to another foreign ship, carrying them to another foreign destination. Liberated Africans experienced traumas of extraordinary scale, and survivors demonstrated extraordinary resilience. In the Indian Ocean, liberated Africans were transported to places such as Cape Town, Mauritius, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Aden, the Seychelles, and Bombay, where their labor was in demand.

This presentation provides an overview of the book project, which explores the daily lives, labor, education, mobility, cultural expressions, family lives, and deaths of liberated Africans. It delves into the ways they found measures of freedom and carved out independent spaces within a colonial environment to resist domination and make their own way in these Indian Ocean colonies. Building on his earlier work on globalization and the slave trade from East Africa to Arabia in the nineteenth century, in this new book project, Professor Hopper explores the lives of liberated Africans to demonstrate the complexities and paradoxes of British imperial policy toward liberation in the nineteenth century. Professor Hopper illustrates how, despite the intentions of abolitionists, the lives of freed slaves on these missions, in many ways, mirrored the lives of enslaved Africans elsewhere in the region. The project, therefore, offers lessons for contemporary humanitarian intervention.

Speaker

Matthew S. Hopper is a Professor of History at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His research focuses on slavery and abolition in the Indian Ocean world. He is currently Ali Marzui Senior Fellow in Global Africa Studies at The Africa Institute, Sharjah. Read more.

Moderator

The seminar will be moderated by John Thabiti Willis, Associate Professor of African History at The Africa Institute, Sharjah. Read more.

 

Through these lectures and workshops, The Africa Institute reaffirms its mission as a center for the study and research of Africa and its diaspora, and its commitment to the training of a new generation of critical thinkers in African and African Diaspora studies.

The seminar will be in English.

The session is free and open to the public. Registration is mandatory, Click here to book your place.

Join us for the next seminar in our series, featuring Matthew S. Hopper, Professor of History at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Ali A. Mazrui Senior Fellow in Global African Studies at The Africa Institute. He will present his research on “Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World, 1808-1897” on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, (12:00 noon to 02:00 pm), at The Africa Institute Auditorium (Location Map).

Join us for the next seminar in our series, featuring Matthew S. Hopper, Professor of History at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Ali A. Mazrui Senior Fellow in Global African Studies at The Africa Institute. He will present his research on “Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World, 1808-1897” on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, (12:00 noon to 02:00 pm), at The Africa Institute Auditorium (Location Map).

Abstract

Between 1808 and 1897, the British Royal Navy captured more than 1,500 slave ships and removed over 200,000 enslaved Africans from vessels in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. At least 22,000 of these Africans were captured aboard slave ships in the Indian Ocean. British officials referred to these captives as “liberated Africans,” but they were neither returned to their homes nor released near their place of capture. Instead, they were transported to the nearest court of adjudication where the slave ships were condemned, naval officers were awarded “prize money,” and the captives could be placed into contracts for indenture in British colonies. Although the Act of Abolition (1807) envisioned indenture as a method to provide training in marketable skills, in reality, most liberated Africans were placed into menial positions as agricultural laborers or domestic servants for up to 14 years.

In this new book project, Professor Hopper explores the lives of African captives removed from slave ships in the Indian Ocean. He examines the collective experience of formerly enslaved people who lived through the trauma of enslavement, dislocation, and an oceanic journey, only to have that journey interrupted and transferred to another foreign ship, carrying them to another foreign destination. Liberated Africans experienced traumas of extraordinary scale, and survivors demonstrated extraordinary resilience. In the Indian Ocean, liberated Africans were transported to places such as Cape Town, Mauritius, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Aden, the Seychelles, and Bombay, where their labor was in demand.

This presentation provides an overview of the book project, which explores the daily lives, labor, education, mobility, cultural expressions, family lives, and deaths of liberated Africans. It delves into the ways they found measures of freedom and carved out independent spaces within a colonial environment to resist domination and make their own way in these Indian Ocean colonies. Building on his earlier work on globalization and the slave trade from East Africa to Arabia in the nineteenth century, in this new book project, Professor Hopper explores the lives of liberated Africans to demonstrate the complexities and paradoxes of British imperial policy toward liberation in the nineteenth century. Professor Hopper illustrates how, despite the intentions of abolitionists, the lives of freed slaves on these missions, in many ways, mirrored the lives of enslaved Africans elsewhere in the region. The project, therefore, offers lessons for contemporary humanitarian intervention.

Speaker

Matthew S. Hopper is a Professor of History at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His research focuses on slavery and abolition in the Indian Ocean world. He is currently Ali Marzui Senior Fellow in Global Africa Studies at The Africa Institute, Sharjah. Read more.

Moderator

The seminar will be moderated by John Thabiti Willis, Associate Professor of African History at The Africa Institute, Sharjah. Read more.

 

Through these lectures and workshops, The Africa Institute reaffirms its mission as a center for the study and research of Africa and its diaspora, and its commitment to the training of a new generation of critical thinkers in African and African Diaspora studies.

The seminar will be in English.

The session is free and open to the public. Registration is mandatory, Click here to book your place.

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