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Volume 8, Number 2
FALL 2018

The Iberian Slave Trade and the Racialization of Freedom by Daniel Nemser. Guinea Sam Nightingale and Magic Marx in Civil War Missouri: Provincializing Global History and Decolonizing Theory by Andrew Zimmerman. Zones of Refuge: Fugitive Memories of Violence in the Work of FX Harsono by Karen Strassler. Dying for a Living: Economic and Moral Restructuring in a French Factory by Pascal Marichalar.


The Iberian Slave Trade and the Racialization of Freedom


According to the historian Enriqueta Vila Vilar, the "first great wave" of the transatlantic slave trade took place during the period of the Iberian Union (1580–1640), when Spain and Portugal were united under the same crown. This political unification opened up new markets in Spain and its American colonies to Portuguese merchants who operated along the African coast, and it provided a stimulus to the slave trade. Especially after 1595, when the socalled asiento system was initiated, shipments of enslaved Africans increased rapidly and continued at this rate until the middle of the seventeenth century. Two port cities—Cartagena de Indias, on the Caribbean coast of present-day Colombia, and Veracruz, on the Gulf coast of present-day Mexico—received the vast majority of these shipments, and by 1640 a total of nearly 450,000 enslaved Africans had been transported directly to Spanish America.




Guinea Sam Nightingale and Magic Marx in Civil War Missouri: Provincializing Global History and Decolonizing Theory

  Sometime in the 1850s, Guinea Sam Nightingale was shot from a cannon in West Africa, landing some 5,500 miles away in Boonville, Missouri. Upon arriving in what was then the major city of the primary region of slavery in the state, he declared: "I'm a conjure man and I'm telling you right now that Ive come here to stay . . . and theres a new day coming for this town." Nightingale became a widely respected healer and conjuror in Central Missouri and a local celebrity in the city of Boonville. Lucy Broaddus, who had grown up in slavery in the area, would later claim that Nightingale and other "heady persons," as individuals with powers like him were sometimes called, had been more important than the Union leadership in ending slavery: "It was them," she explained, "that freed the slaves. They give a hand to Lincoln and them other big emancipator men so that they could bring it about a gift from the colored people of conjuration and power." We should take seriously this account of African powers transported to the United States by means of explosive technology to bring "a new day" and end slavery in ways that Lincoln and other "big emancipator men" could not. It opens a plebeian, transnational world of self-emancipatory politics obscured by liberal fantasies about inevitable progress and individual rights, by nationalist fantasies about freedoms supposed to inhere in the United States, and by militaristic fantasies about a supposedly good war.





  In 1897, after a decade of intense scholarly work, Max Weber suffered a nervous breakdown. For most of the six years that followed, a period which some have called his "lost years," he was no longer able to read or write without great distress. The sociologist "struggled to teach but often could not complete the semester," and "was unable to concentrate on work." Only in 1904 did he take up a new writing project, which led to him publishing The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the classic study that deals precisely with the mystery of how and why we commit ourselves to work. His explanation involved the enduring legacy of ascetic Protestantism, what he called "the ghost of dead religious beliefs." In 1908, Weber completed this line of thought in a study of worker output in a textile factory—a study that also considered worldly factors such as wages, worker solidarity, and the threat of unemployment.





A film by the Indonesian artist FX Harsono begins with a scene shot in black and white: a young boy sits on a simple bench, leafing through a photo album with black pages, each holding six small square photos with white borders. The boy appears to be looking at an ordinary family album—until the camera zooms in on the images. Elsewhere, Harsono recalls: "When I was still a young kid, I often came across one photo album in particular. It had a black cover and contained photos that depicted the excavation of the corpses of Chinese-Indonesians. When I saw these photos, I asked my parents about them. They explained to me that back in 1948, around the city of Blitar, there had been a massacre of Chinese people. They were killed because they were considered to be spies for the Dutch."







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