Captive Mobilities: Slavery, Freedom, and Knowledge Production in Latin America and Beyond

15 September 2022, 12.00 PM - 16 September 2022, 5.30 PM

Keynote: Professor Toby Green

A two-day hybrid conference at the University of Bristol, Thursday 15th & Friday 16th September 2022 Captive Mobilities: Slavery, Freedom, and Knowledge Production in Latin America and Beyond Supported by Society of Latin American Studies and the Leverhulme Trust Organisers: Bethan Fisk and José Lingna Nafafé Keynote: Professor Toby Green

Captivity and mobility were central conditions for understanding the entangled historical experience of enslaved and free people of African and indigenous descent in the Americas and the Atlantic World from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. While the study of slavery and captivity has a longer history, mobility is increasingly a growth area in slavery studies. Mobility played a crucial role in enslaved people’s captivity, and their production and circulation of knowledge in Latin America and the wider world.

Rather than studying captivity and mobility as separate categories of analysis, this conference explores how they often went hand in hand. Just as enslavers used mobility to enforce and consolidate their power and disrupt the making of place, captives of diverse ethnicities sought to use mobility to create freedoms. Central questions the conference include: How was mobility used to shore up slavery? To what extent did mobility produce captivity? How did enslaved people use their mobilities to produce knowledge? And were they able to use their mobile knowledges to transform their political and social realities? Scholars have increasingly studied how enslaved people used mobility in the Americas and the Atlantic world to assert autonomy and create new possibilities of freedom. Yet for many pre-modern subjects the history of mobility was also tied up with enslavement and captivity. Captivity was not stationary, experienced only in fixed locales, but also a process made, enforced, and resisted on the move. Captives moved aboard slave ships, on waterborne vessels along rivers and between islands, empires, and continents, on foot between plantations, into their homelands, the mountains, or the forests, or to hide in plain sight in the city.

By studying Latin America in a wider frame, the conference is both inspired by the transnational approach of Latin American Studies and follows the movement of captives around the pre-modern world that frequently traversed traditional boundaries of empire and language. In taking such an approach, the conference seeks to start a transnational and continuing conversation about the meanings of captivity and mobility, centring how enslaved and free subjects produced knowledge about these conditions.

Paper presenters include: Yesenia Barragan, Patrício Batsîkama, Lloyd Belton, Katherine Bonil, Mariana Candido, Celso Thomas Castilho, Camillia Cowling, Caroline Dodds Pennock, Bethan Fisk, Ebony Jones, Chloe Ireton, Aaron Alejandro Olivas, Selina Patel Nascimiento, Érika Rincones Minda, Jesús Sanjurjo, Fabiana Schleumer, Richard Stone, Tamara Walker, Erin Woodruff Stone and Nancy Van Deusen. 

Contact information

Pre-circulated papers available for participants and limited pre-registration available for in-person attendees who are members of the Society of Latin American Studies.

Please email Bethan Fisk.

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