06/06/2014 03:15 PM
BATON ROUGE – Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie’s “Freedom’s Seekers” offers a bold and innovative
intervention into the study of emancipation as a transnational phenomenon and serves
as an important contribution to our understanding of the remaking of the 19th-century
Atlantic Americas. Challenging national narratives of emancipatory exceptionalism
(in America, in Britain, in Haiti), Freedom’s Seekers encourages readers to approach
emancipation studies with a fresh eye that looks beyond purely national frameworks.
Drawing on decades of research into slave and emancipation societies, Kerr-Ritchie
is attentive to those who sought but were not granted freedom, and those who resisted
enslavement individually as well as collectively on behalf of their communities. He
explores the many roles that fugitive slaves, slave soldiers, and slave rebels played
in their own societies. He likewise explicates the lives of individual freedmen, freedwomen,
and freed children to show how the first free-born generation helped shape the terms
and conditions of the post-slavery world.
“Freedom’s Seekers” is a signal contribution to African Diaspora studies, especially
in its rigorous respect for the agency of those who sought and then fought for their
freedom, and its consistent attention to the transnational dimensions of emancipation.
Kerr-Ritchie, associate professor of history at Howard University, is the author of
“Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World” and “Freedpeople
in the Tobacco South: Virginia, 1860–1900.”
Posted on Friday, June 6, 2014