This essay uses Ada Ferrer’s book Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution as a starting point for revisiting the intellectual project of comparative slavery within the Caribbean. Freedom’s Mirror focuses on neighboring territories—Cuba and Hispaniola—during a time of revolutionary upheaval, when people of varying classes traveled regularly between the two islands, and when even those who did not travel mutually observed the progress of ideas and political and social alliances in multiple places. The author argues that the variety and intensity of the interactions explored in Freedom’s Mirror points to the possibility that, even in more ordinary times, stakeholders in Caribbean slave societies paid substantial attention to political and social developments among their regional neighbors. New studies in Caribbean comparative slavery might well focus more on such themes of mutual observation and interconnection as experienced by slavery-era Caribbean populations, free and enslaved.
Thy Neighbor’s Slave Society: Rethinking Comparison in the History of Caribbean Slavery
Laura Rosanne Adderley is an associate professor of history at Tulane University, where she is also affiliated with the Africana Studies Program and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. She is author of “New Negroes from Africa”: Slave Trade Abolition and Free African Settlement in the Nineteenth-Century Caribbean (2006). Her current research includes a study of African-born soldiers who worked for British authorities in Havana during the era of slave trade suppression.
Laura Rosanne Adderley; Thy Neighbor’s Slave Society: Rethinking Comparison in the History of Caribbean Slavery. Small Axe 1 March 2019; 23 (1 (58)): 208–219. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7374562
Download citation file: