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Edward E. Baptist, “Abolitionism, Modern ‘Anti-Slavery,’ and #BlackLivesMatter”

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 4:45pm

Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall
ICM Lecture Series

Associate Professor, History, Cornell University

In recent years, concerns about forms of human trafficking in the neoliberal global economy have led to the emergence of a movement that defines itself as “anti-slavery.” While consciously identifying itself with historic abolitionist movements against the nineteenth-century enslavement of Africans in the Atlantic world, modern ‘anti-slavery’ has not drawn the lessons of abolitionists’ failure to reconstruct the racial economy of the Western world.

Professor Edward E. Baptist’s research focuses on the history of the 19th-century United States, and in particular on the history of the enslavement of African Americans in the South. The expansion of slavery in the United States between the writing of the Constitution in 1787 and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 had enormous consequences for all Americans. Indeed, the expansion shaped many elements of the modern world that we now live in, both inside and outside the borders of the United States. His most recent book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Basic Books, 2014) chronicles the experience of the slave trades and forced migrations that drove expansion, the systems of labor that emerged, and the economic and political and cultural consequences for women and men and children. Professor Baptist earned his B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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