Armed People of African Descent: Africa and the Americas, 1750-1900

desanges_l_c-battle_of_tubecelong
‘The Capture of Tubabakalong, Gambia, 1866, oil painting by Chevalier Louis William Desanges (1866), Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance.

Warwick University’s history department is hosting this conference 12-13 May this year—it’s related to a four-year research project entitled ‘Africa’s Sons Under Arms: Race, Military Bodies and the British West India Regiments in the Atlantic World, 1795-1914.’ The draft programme is available on the conference website… so if any blog-readers are interested in this topic, scan the programme and follow up the work of the historians. If I was in the UK, I’d be doing my best to get to this conference. Please let me know if you are fortunate enough to attend!

As Warwick’s website explains, the conference is concerned with the use of armed men of African descent by the European empires and American states of the Atlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This encompasses both those deliberately armed and those who had taken up arms, perhaps to liberate themselves, and later came to an accommodation with the regime, as well as short-term enrolments and permanent military establishments. The broader ‘Africa’s Sons Under Arms’ project focuses on military units raised by the British, initially as enslaved people, that served in the Caribbean and West Africa. A primary aim of the conference is to contextualise the Regiments in relation to similar formations and policies elsewhere. In so doing, the conference organisers hope that papers will build on and go beyond work on armed slaves, notably Brown and Morgan, Arming Slaves (2008), to think more broadly about the significance and impact of deploying armed men of African descent in a period when most were imperial subjects and generally denigrated within Euro-American discourse.

Click here to go to the Conference Website

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