In her book Dispossessed Lives, Professor Marisa Fuentes illuminates the lives of enslaved women in eighteenth century Bridgetown, Barbados, reading fragments of traditional archival sources “along the bias grain.” She interrogates the archive and its historical production to challenge the methods and categories by which historians have analyzed slavery in the Atlantic and Caribbean Worlds, in addition to engaging with larger questions of violence, agency, and gender.
In her talk, Fuentes will present two stories from the book: “Jane,” a fugitive enslaved woman, and “Venus,” women evoked in the slave trade abolition debates of the late eighteenth century. These women’s stories were not meant as history, but Fuentes shows how even the most invisible subjects can be thoughtfully considered through archival fragments, and elaborated with ethical methods that challenge the enduring power of the colonial archive to center the sights, sounds, and views of enslaved women.
Marisa J. Fuentes is the Presidential Term Chair in African American History and associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and History at Rutgers University. Her scholarship brings together critical historiography, historical geography, and black feminist theory to examine gender, sexuality, and slavery in the early modern Atlantic World. She teaches courses in both history and women’s and gender studies departments on topics ranging from early modern Caribbean history and women’s and gender history in the United States to feminist theories and methodologies. Her first book, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive, won book prizes from the Caribbean Studies Association, the Association of Black Women Historians, and the Berkshires Conference of Women’s Historians. She is co-editor of Scarlet and Black: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History, Volume I, and the “Slavery and the Archive,” a special issue in History of the Present. Fuentes’s research has been funded by several institutions, including the Ford Foundation, Harvard University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the NEH. Her next project focuses on the seventeenth century slave trade, capitalism, and disposability.
When: Monday, April 9 at 5:00pm
Where: Strong Hall, 101
Street Address: 1621 West Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996