9:30 am to 12:30 pm
At the time Equiano was living and writing, notions of race and nationality were in flux but increasingly powerful justifications for social and economic practices. Both opponents of and apologists for the transatlantic slave trade used emerging ideas about race and culture, especially as applied to African cultures, to support their very different positions—often in surprising ways. In an article entitled “Olaudah Equiano and the Eighteenth-Century Debate on Africa,” George Boloukos demonstrates that analyzing the Interesting Narrative in the context of these other contemporary discussions reveals that Equiano was doing more than just recounting his life story and promoting the abolitionist cause; he also was responding to and challenging prevalent notions of race, identity, and culture. Participants will leave the seminar with new knowledge of Equiano, his autobiography, and the crucial context of its publication; novel ways of interpreting this important eighteenth-century text and author; and improved understanding of the intellectual underpinnings of the movement to abolish the transatlantic slave trade (and their opponents) in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.