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Conférences de Trevor Burnard (Université de Melbourne) sur les sociétés esclavagistes dans le monde atlantique britannique (Paris, EHESS, novembre-décembre 2015)

samedi 21 novembre 2015, par Dominique Taurisson-Mouret

Trevor Burnard, professeur d’histoire et directeur de l’Ecole des études historiques et philosophiques à l’Université de Melbourne, viendra comme directeur d’études invité à l’EHESS en novembre-décembre 2015.

Trevor Burnard est l’un des meilleurs spécialistes des sociétés esclavagistes dans le monde atlantique britannique du XVIIe au XIXe siècle. Il aussi bien travaillé sur l’Amérique du Nord que sur la Caraïbe, sur les plantations que sur les villes, ainsi que sur les maîtres et le personnel d’encadrement d’origine européenne que sur les esclaves. Il s’intéresse, en particulier, à la démographie des sociétés esclavagistes, à la manière dont les rapports de genre étaient transformés par les systèmes esclavagistes, à l’idéologie des planteurs et aux processus d’identification ethnique et raciale ou encore aux relations entre impérialisme et esclavagisme. Auteur de très nombreux ouvrages dont Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire : Thomas Thistlewood and his Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), il vient de faire paraître Planters, Merchants, and Slaves : Plantation Societies in British America, 1650-1820 (University of Chicago Press, 2015), tandis que sortira dans quelques mois un ouvrage comparatif, co-écrit avec John Garrigus : The Plantation Machine : Atlantic Capitalism in French Saint-Domingue and British Jamaica (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

Trevor Burnard donnera cinq conférences :

  • Mardi 17 novembre 2015, 16h-18h, salle 12, CENA, EHESS, 105 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris

« The Making of Plantation Societies in the Greater Antilles in the Eighteenth-Century » (Séminaire sur l’histoire comparée des traites, esclavages et abolitions dans les mondes atlantiques)

« The success of Barbados (and to an extent Martinique) in becoming a plantation society in which the large integrated plantation, with a small number of white managerial staff and a large number of enslaved workers of African descent was the principal labour model for plantation agriculture should have encouraged other places, like Jamaica and Saint Domingue, to transform themselves into similar kinds of plantation societies. Yet most British and French American slave societies took quite a long time before they became plantation societies similar to Barbados. Key to transforming these societies into the kinds of plantation societies that were so successful, at least in economic terms, in the eighteenth century, was convincing ordinary white men that working in the plantation economy and managing often violent and recalcitrant African-born slaves was something that could lead to wealth and prosperity. The principal argument in this seminar is that before we look at the ways that a shared racial understanding united whites in plantation societies, we need to understand the economic connections that made all white people support the continued growth of plantation systems. »

  • Mardi 24 novembre 2015, 12h-14h (brown bag lunch seminar), salle 12, CENA, EHESS, 105 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris

« Hearing Slaves Speak : Women Slaves, Second Slavery and Abolition in Berbice, British Guiana, 1817-1834 » (dans le séminaire collectif du CENA)

« The abolition of the slave trade by the British in 1807 and the destruction of the plantation system in Saint-Domingue did not mean that plantation slavery was in decline everywhere in the Atlantic World in the early nineteenth century. It obviously flourished in Cuba and the American South but it was also vibrant in British Guiana. In this little studied but surprisingly important set of nineteenth-century British colonies in the Americas, new and repressive forms of slave management contributed to creating a very harsh form of enslavement. How did enslaved people, especially women, cope with the situation they found themselves in ? An especially rich set of records, in which we have direct testimony from slave women, allows these women to speak to us. What they show is a counter-discourse from enslaved people to the ideas of amelioration and “improvement” advocated by planters. Drawing on notions of moral economy, this seminar explores enslaved women’s notions of what a slave system should be and the reciprocal rights owed by owners to slaves, as much as those that slaves were obligated to provide to masters. »

  • Jeudi 26 novembre 2015, 17h-19h, salle 8, EHESS, 105 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris

« The Somerset case of 1772, Granville Sharp and the Birth of West Indian Proslavery » (Séminaire du CIRESC sur « Esclaves, affranchis et ’nouveaux libres’ dans l’espace public du monde atlantique : race, agentivité et citoyenneté »)

« When Lord Mansfield decided that the slave James Somerset was entitled to habeas corpus in 1772, it was both a vindication of the determined lobbying of Britain’s first antislavery advocate, Granville Sharp, and also a first warning shot from the imperial centre to a self-confident West Indian and British slave trading interest, showing that a significant body of metropolitan opinion was determined to inflict sever economic damage on the region, by denying that British laws and colonial laws relating to slavery went together. This paper examines both how the case came into being, including the pivotal role played by Granville Sharp in this process, and also the responses made by West Indian writers protesting about the decision. I argue that one usually overlooked aspect of the controversy over Somerset was that it was not just a debate over the morality or otherwise of slavery and the slave trade but it was also a reflection of the very mixed image that West Indians had in how they presented themselves and their behaviour to a British audience. That audience was increasingly interested in imperial matters after the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763 and increasingly appalled by what they saw as British actions abroad. By failing to confront the representational battle – how West Indians were portrayed by their abolitionist opponents – West Indians arguing in favour of proslavery missed a major tool in the abolitionists’ armoury. This failure to counter the negative image of West Indians came to hurt them as anti-imperialist and anti-West Indian feeling became more pronounced in Britain during the American Revolution and especially during the 1780s. »

  • Vendredi 27 novembre 2015, 16h-18h, ENS, salle IHMC, escalier D, 3e étage, 45 rue d’Ulm 75005 Paris

« Plantation Machines : Comparing Jamaica and Saint-Domingue as Atlantic Societies, 1748-1788 » (Séminaire de Philippe Minard sur « Etat, travail et société - Angleterre, France et colonies, XVIIIe-XIXe siècles »)

« The sudden arrival of the Haitian Revolution in 1791 and the equally sudden success of the British abolition movement from 1788 meant that we find it hard to see Jamaica and Saint-Domingue as places of prosperity, social invention and geo-political importance. Yet in the years between the Seven Years’ War and the French Revolution, both colonies were at the centre of French and British imaginings of the New World. A comparison of the two places shows some differences but many structural similarities, especially in the development of a relentless brutal but efficient plantation machine in which slaves were worked very hard for the benefit of a tiny elite of white owners. This plantation machine made both colonies rich and powerful but also intensely disturbing, at least for observers worried about the social implication of living in societies in which nearly everything was commoditized and where money was the measure of all things. »

  • Mardi 1er décembre 2015, 16h-18h, salle 12, CENA, EHESS, 105 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris

« As Much Trading as Planting Places : Urban Worlds in Jamaica and Saint Domingue, 1745-1793 » (Séminaire sur l’histoire comparée des traites, esclavages et abolitions dans les mondes atlantiques)

« The British and French Caribbean in the eighteenth century are usually viewed through the prism of the plantation alone. Yet while the plantation was undoubtedly important, both Saint-Domingue and Jamaica in the Greater Antilles had a significant urban dimension. Cap Français and Kingston were vibrant, dynamic and transformative places that intersected with the plantation system but were coterminous with it. An examination of these two places during a period where provincial towns were growing and becoming more important everywhere in British and French America helps us to understand why contemporaries found the West Indies to be at the forefront of fascinating yet often disturbing processes of modernization. It also allows us to examine the role of commerce as a pulse in shaping life in plantation societies. »

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