This article recovers the Afropolitan histories of Liberated Africans by examining their mobility and freedom politics. Liberated Africans enacted Afropolitanism when they returned from Sierra Leone to Old Calabar and fashioned themselves into Black Englishmen. Their Afropolitanism incorporated a dissident mode of Anglo-cosmopolitanism, thereby undermining orthodox British visions of imperial subjecthood. In using petitions to British authorities to assert their identity as British subjects, they secured their precarious freedom but challenged British monopoly of the Bight of Biafra’s transatlantic palm oil trade. Rather than being mere recipients of abolition, Liberated Africans refashioned abolition. They used forged “freedom papers” to emancipate, repossess, and traffic slaves from Old Calabar society while defending their behavior as “redemption” of slaves. Contrary to imperial fixity of African subjects, Liberated Africans evinced an Afropolitan vision of belonging. They simultaneously claimed to be natives of Sierra Leone and Old Calabar. Their contradictory ideologies and practices mitigated their marginality and confounded African elites and British imperial agents.

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