Looking forward to speaking about the maroons of Saint-Domingue/Haiti at this upcoming UCLA conference on migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Please join us for a lecture by Radcliffe Visiting Scholar Fredrik Thomasson entitled Sweden and Haiti, 1791-1825. Register here to attend.
Sweden and Haiti 1791–1825
Monday, February 4 | 4 PM
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Knafel Center, Room 104, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge MA
Haitian historiography is evolving rapidly and the recent focus on the revolution has expanded to cover the first decades of the independent nation/s. New research has refuted the notion of Haitian post-independence isolation.
Uppsala University historian Fredrik Thomasson contextualizes these perspectives in a discussion of Swedish-Haitian relations from the beginning of the rebellions in the early 1790s to the Swedish recognition of Haiti in 1825. Thomasson will compare the reporting in Sweden to that in the Swedish Caribbean colony Saint Barthélemy where the Revolution was seen in a very different light.
The Swedish case is an interesting testimony both to the extent that the revolution was world news and how newly independent Haiti interacted with surrounding colonies, as well as with a distant Scandinavian nation.
Lite refreshments will be served. Register at http://bit.ly/FThomasson to attend.
The Colonial Archive and Swedish Saint Barthélemy 1785–1878
Friday, February 8, 2019
12:00 – 1:15 PM
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Byerly Hall (10 Garden Street, Cambridge)
Fredrik Thomasson, Department of History, Uppsala University
When Sweden sold the Caribbean island Saint Barthélemy to France in 1878, all governmental archives were left on the island. This collection is now held in the French colonial archives in Aix-en-Provence: Archives nationales d’outre-mer. Fonds Suédois de Saint Barthélemy (FSB) – with documents in mainly Swedish, French and English. It covers the entire Swedish period 1785–1878 and is by far the richest source on Swedish Caribbean colonialism.
The archive, c. 300.000 pages, is several times bigger than the material on the Caribbean possession in archives in Sweden but has, with very few exceptions, never been used by Swedish historians.
This presentation discusses the digitization project of the FSB and gives an account for the archive’s exceptional history.
Negotiations with institutional stakeholders and contact with a larger public confirms that this project is very much part of contemporary history and memory debates. Why was the archive never used, and why was there so little interest from Swedish archival institutions to make it accessible? Other issues to be discussed are the effects of digitization on colonial history, and to what extent access to this archive can change perceptions on Swedish Caribbean colonial history.
Interested in attending? Register as soon as possible at the bit.ly link above.
Seats for our lunches tend to fill quickly, so do register early. We will let you know if you receive a seat.
Looking forward to speaking on November 7 about “The Jesuits, the Souls of Slaves, and the Struggle for Haiti, 1720-1725” at Harvard’s Mahindra 18th c. Studies Seminar. Details here.
Looking forward to this conference May 28-30 in Québec on “Voices in the Legal Archives in the French Atlantic,” at which I will present a paper entitled “Controlling Haitian History: Moreau de Saint-Méry and the Revolt against the Indies Company.”
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to participate in one of the most interesting and important dialogues I have been involved in as a historian. The occasion was the second of a series of forums on the “MIT and Slavery” project, an investigation of MIT’s relationship to slavery that MIT’s President Rafael Reif commissioned at the end of last academic year. The project has been spearheaded by my colleague Craig Wilder, who had the brilliant idea of creating an undergraduate research seminar (along with MIT archivist Nora Murphy) to undertake the investigation. The first forum in the series featured Craig and Nora as well as T.A. Claire Kim and a genuinely spectacular cohort of undergrads, who spoke on that day with a composure and degree of insight one would expect to see from an advanced historian (video here). The second forum, in which I was joined by Craig and MIT SHASS Dean Melissa Nobles as well as historians Tanalís Padilla and Lerna Ekmekçioğlu, was a follow-up response to questions from the MIT community about the purpose of studying this chapter of MIT’s past. The panel opened up onto a broader discussion of “the power of historical knowledge to make a better world,” from which I learned a great deal (not least by way of the lively Q&A with the audience that followed). A video recording of the event can be found here, and a news summary here. The event was organized by Emily Hiestand of the MIT SHASS Dean’s office.
A brief Q&A discussing my current research project and related issues.
Looking forward to discussing “The Jesuits, the Souls of Slaves, and the Battle for Saint-Domingue, 1720-1730” with the Boston College Legal History Roundtable this coming Thursday.
Just out in Law and Literature: “‘No Body to be Kicked’? Monopoly, Financial Crisis, and Popular Revolt in 18th-Century Haiti and America.”
Here’s the abstract:
“Contemporary law and legal theory are resigned to the view that the corporation is a mere nexus of contracts, a legal person lacking both body and soul. This essay explores that commitment to the immateriality of the corporation through a discussion of the 18th-century revolt against the Indies Company in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) and British North America. Opponents of the joint-stock monopoly in these Atlantic settings believed, like critics of transnational corporate power today, that the company form represented a merger of wealth and power operating to subvert the liberties of disenfranchised outsiders. Financial crisis served to destabilize the fiscal and political environment that insulated the Indies Company from its critics, who took advantage of these openings by attacking the material embodiments of the corporation in the name of “free trade.” The 18th-century opposition to monopoly privilege suggests that corporate personality was neither dismissed as fiction nor accepted as reality, and that in some circumstances, at least, the corporate body could indeed be held to account for the sins of a person without conscience.”