This article explores under what conditions, with what methods, and in relation to what materials the question of recovery with respect to slavery and freedom can be posed. Accounts of Black Atlantic and African American slavery are central to understanding enslavement and the terrains of struggles for freedom, yet the questioning of recovery also requires a critical examination of the genealogy of freedom itself. The author argues that liberalism did not contradict slavery, but rather served as a means to rationalize slavery and its aftermath, and observes that many liberal ideas were also employed to justify settler occupation, theft of land, imperial trades, war, and overseas empire, making these simultaneous yet differentiated processes that link Africa, Asia, and Europe with the Americas relevant to the study of slavery and freedom. Moreover, the author observes that because slavery and colonialism are the conditions of possibility for liberalism, we must hesitate before reiterating the desire for freedom.

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