Category Archives: Slavery

Fredrik Thomasson events on Haiti/Sweden/Colonial Archives Feb. 4 and 8, 2019 at Harvard/Radcliffe

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.


Fredrik Thomasson

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)

http://bit.ly/Thomasson_Lunch

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.

Africa in Global History: A Colloquium on the Work of Joseph C. Miller

Looking forward to participating in this upcoming (Oct. 26) Harvard colloquium on the work of the great Africanist Joseph Miller of UVA, spearheaded by my wonderful new MIT colleague Kenda Mutongi.  You can find the final program at this link and also just below:

final miller program

MIT and the Task of History

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.