For our first "Around the Web" post since our inaugural conference earlier this month, we begin by directing supporters to two other conferences on related themes.
This past weekend scholars convened at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for "What is a Slave Society? An International Conference on the Nature of Slavery as a Global Historical Phenomenon." Check out the list of papers on the conference website. In a few weeks, another group of scholars will convene at Union Theological Seminary in New York for an interdisciplinary conference on "Cell Blocks and Border Stops: Transformational Activism in the Age of Dehumanization."
Readers interested in learning more about the history of American abolitionism will be glad to know that a recent PBS film about the abolitionists can now be viewed in its entirety on an NEH website.
A recent article at The Root discusses efforts by the Congressional Black Caucus to bring attention to sex trafficking as an issue of particular concern to African Americans. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee was interviewed about her view that opposition to trafficking is a natural extension of the caucus’s mission. Anti-trafficking activist Malika Saadar Sar also argued that the disproportionate number of women of color among victims of trafficking makes this modern problem one of the legacies of older forms of slavery:
For Saadar Sar the effort is a desperate one. "Many of these girls are the great-great-granddaughters of those who were enslaved during an earlier part of our history," she says. "We must do the work of building underground railroads away from this new form of slavery."
The persistent legacy of chattel slavery in the United States is also the subject of a new book by Craig Steven Wilder called Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. Wilder discussed the connections between slavery and elite institutions of higher education in a recent essay in The Chronicle Review and an NPR interview about his book.
Many of the sessions at our recent conference discussed innovative strategies for teaching students about the history and persistence of slavery. In that light, supporters of HAS may be interested in an essay by historian Ed Ayers in Perspectives. Ayers shares some of what he has found about the ways undergraduates view the historical profession, and concludes by stressing his students’ desire to see historians make their work more accessible and relevant to the present:
The academic historian in me took quiet satisfaction from … the new respect students had for our profession. But any smugness proved fleeting, for, as they began to put their understanding of history into action the students argued that historians were wasting opportunities all around us. As they presented their plans for the anniversaries of the Civil War’s end and of emancipation, they instinctively and insistently invoked the power of social media. We need to engage people where they are, the students told me and each other in their Prezi presentations, we must employ the tools people use every day to build communities of understanding in real time.
Students may already be well ahead of the historical profession in tackling issues related to modern-day slavery. A recent article in the West Hartford News featured the work of Student Abolitionists Stopping Slavery, one of the groups that appeared at our conference. These student abolitionists are already learning about how to use history to make slavery history. Meanwhile, other activists are also making creative use of the Harry Potter novels to call attention to the problem of chocolate produced by slave labor.
That’s all for this Around the Web post! If you’ve read something recently connected to the mission of Historians Against Slavery, let us know about it in the comments, or tweet your suggestions to @HASlavery.