Faculty Articles


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • Item
    "We are Seven" and the First British Census
    (English Language Notes, 2010) Robbins, Hollis
  • Item
    African Diasporas and the Atlantic
    (The Atlantic in Global History, 1500-2000, edited by Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra and Eric R. Seeman, 129-147. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2007) Larson, Pier M.
    As a cursory consultation of any library catalog quickly confirms, the African diaspora as both concept and field of study is overwhelmingly defined by Atlantic scholarship. This is paradoxical in two respects. The Atlantic is one of three broad regions of African dispersion outside the continent. Between 650 and 1900 C.E., a comparable number of sub-Saharan Africans left their homes for destinations in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean as they did into the Atlantic (see table 1).1Second,African diaspora, a relatively new concept, is widely thought to have been introduced into academic discourse through a conference paper delivered in 1965 by George Shepperson.2The conference in question united scholars of African history to consider intellectual problems in their fledgling field. It was held at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, a port on the Swahili coast of the Indian Ocean (map 1). From antiquity to the nineteenth century, Africans entered the Indian Ocean and its Red Sea extension as slaves from the continent’s eastern seaboard. First articulated at an African center of research and among scholars who taught about the departure of slaves into the Indian Ocean from their own shores, Shepperson’s notion of African diaspora found its intellectual home an ocean away, in Atlantic America.
  • Item
    (Journal of African History, 2007) Larson, Pier M.
    ABSTRACT: Malagasy speakers probably formed the single largest native speech community among slaves dispersed into the western Indian Ocean between 1500 and 1900. In the eighteenth-century Mascarenes, Malagasy parlers (dialects) served as a contact language, understood both by persons born in Madagascar and by those with no direct ties to the island. Catholic missionaries working in Bourbon and I ˆ le de France frequently evangelized among sick and newly disembarked Malagasy slaves in their own tongues, employing servile interpreters and catechists from their ecclesiastical plantations as intermediaries in their ‘work of the word’. Evangelistic style was multilingual, in both French and Malagasy, and largely verbal, but was also informed by Malagasy vernacular manuscripts of Church doctrine set in Roman characters. The importance of Malagasy in the Mascarenes sets the linguistic environment of the islands off in distinctive ways from those of Atlantic slave societies and requires scholars to rethink the language and culture history of the western Indian Ocean islands,
  • Item
    Afro-Mexican History: Trends and Directions in Scholarship
    (History Compass, 2005) Vinson, Ben, III
    This article surveys the development of a relatively new and vibrant subfield in Latin American History, mapping out the major stages of its evolution and signaling key intellectual debates. While much of the scholarship on Afro-Mexican history has been produced in the last thirty-five years, this article aims to contextualize these writings within a broader historical framework. This process shows more clearly the various independent and interdependent tracks that exist within the study of Mexico’s black population.
  • Item
    (The Americas, 2000) Vinson, Ben, III
    Late colonial Mexico possessed one of the largest free-colored populations in Spanish America, numbering around 370,000 in 1793. The colony’s pardos, morenos, and mulattos were highly dispersed, being found throughout the major urban centers, coastal zones, rural areas, and in selected portions of the northern frontier. Studies conducted over the past two decades have assisted enormously in reconstructing the free-colored demographic profile, with particular emphasis on occupational and marriage patterns. Much of this research has resulted from sustained examinations of the caste vs. class debate, which has attempted to understand the manner in which the caste system worked in structuring colonial social relations.
  • Item
    Colonies Lost: God, Hunger, and Conflict in Anosy (Madagascar) to 1674
    (Variorum, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 2007) Larson, Pier M.
    A fleet of thirteen Portuguese vessels under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral set sail from Lisbon for the East Indies just two years after Vasco da Gama fi rst rounded the Cape of Good Hope. In late May 1500, inclement weather at the Cape separated the vessel commanded by Diego Diaz from the others, blowing it well south of its intended course. Steering north to regain their way, Diaz and crew caught sight of land on 10 August along the coast of Anosy, Madagascar’s southeast extremity (fi g. 1). The day was the Feast of São Lourenço, and Diaz named the big island (Madagascar) for European cartography after the feast.1 As far as it is known, this was the fi rst sighting of Madagascar by seafarers hailing directly from the Atlantic via the Cape route. European sailors and mapmakers continued to identify Madagascar as São Lourenço (Portuguese) and Saint-Laurent (French) for centuries to come. From the early decades of the sixteenth century to the French abandonment of Madagascar in 1674, Anosy in southeast Madagascar was an important site of European-Malagasy interaction. The meeting grounds of Anosy played a signifi cant role in the early modern history of the southwest Indian Ocean, much as the Cape of Good Hope or Kilwa and Mombasa did, but they are poorly known outside a close circle of francophone Madagascar experts. At the same time little secondary literature on Anosy and its Europeans in any language is broad and comparative in outlook, setting them in wider and interconnected historical narratives of the region.2 ******************** 1. Alfred Grandidier, ed., Collection des ouvrages anciens concernant Madagascar, 9 vols. (Paris: Comité de Madagascar, 1903– 20), 1:3–5. 2. An exception is Mike Parker Pearson, “Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: Malagasy Resistance and Colonial Disasters in Southern Madagascar,” World Archaeology 28 (1997): 393–417. This work covers a broad set of encounters between Europeans and the inhabitants of southern Madagascar to the seventeenth century, mainly from an archaeological perspective. Anosy was one of several areas of European interest in Madagascar before the late seventeenth century, others being in the west, particularly the Bay of Boina and Saint Augustine Bay, which are not covered in this article. For these, see Pearson, “Close Encounters,” the articles by Vincent Belrose-Huyghues cited in later notes, and William Foster, “An English Settlement in Madagascar in 1645–6,” English Historical Review 27 (1912): 239–50.
  • Item
    Malagasy at the Mascarenes
    (Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2007) Larson, Pier M.
    European expansion from the fifteenth century produced much writing on, and sometimes in, non-European languages that served a broad array of imperial interests. Most European ventures into what one scholar has termed “colonial linguistics” were based on investigations among speakers of native tongues in the regions in which those speakers normally resided, twining language studies with observed “native” cultural qualities and setting out territories of colonial interest defined by local language and culture.1 Fewer colonial linguists ventured into plural societies to study the linguae francae of trade and labor that enabled communication across broad cultural and language differences, in part because such zones were considered dangerous and unstable, or lacking in mother tongues. Fewer still elected destinations of forced migration such as slave societies or freedmen’s towns and villages to examine the mother tongues of persons who had come coercively from afar, though many such settings in certain periods offered a rich menu of languages for study.2 1 Joseph Errington, “Colonial Linguistics,” Annual Review of Anthropology 30 (2001): 19–39. 2 Among the works of this nature are Alonso de Sandoval, Naturaleza policia sagrada y profana, costumbres y ritos, disciplina i cathecismo evange´lico de todos Etiopes (Sevilla, 1627); Sigismund Wilhelm Koelle, Polyglotta Africana: Or, a Comparative Vocabulary of Nearly Three Hundred Words and Phrases in More than One Hundred Distinct African Languages (London, 1854).
  • Item
    Articulating Space: The Free-Colored Military Establishment in Colonial Mexico from the Conquest to Independence
    (Callaloo, 2004) Vinson, Ben III
    Introduction: Questioning the Question of Non-White Military Service in Colonial Mexico At the close of the seventeenth century, even with Spain feeling the heat of war and with streams of pirate raids still punishing the coastlines of the crown’s New World holdings, Spanish bureaucrats cringed when considering the prospect of using black troops to defend their possessions. Francisco de Seijas y Lobera, the former alcalde mayor (district governor) of Tacuba, a distinguished member of the Spanish gentry, a scientist, merchant, and a traveler, seemed to capture the spirit of the times in his fourteen-volume history of the Spanish kingdom. Written between 1702–1704 as a counseling guide for the new monarch, Philip V, Seijas dedicated an entire tome exclusively to Mexican affairs. Within, he described in detail the existing military landscape, the scope of enemy threats, the parameters of existing defenses, and most importantly, he offered a series of recommendations for improving the mechanisms for protecting the crown’s borders. During times of emergency, Seijas suggested that Mexico could probably count upon the military services of 200,000 coastal and frontier defenders. His estimates tallied that a full 175,000 of these would be drawn from the negro, mulatto, pardo, Indian, and mestizo racial classes. But in his enthusiasm for advocating the expansion of the military to include nonwhites, Seijas also revealed certain prejudices that seemed characteristic of his times. Sure, negros and mulattos (i.e. free-coloreds) could be called upon to serve; however, the terms of their service had to be constricted: With respect to the formation of the two companies, considering (as one should) that the said negros and mulatos cannot be allowed to use swords and daggers, sharp weapons, or firearms of any type . . . it is not convenient or safe for the service of the king that the tremendous number of negro and mulatto rabble that exist (sic) in the Indies use such weapons. This is because they could use these arms to revolt. Moreover, there is no just or political reason why these people, who are of the same species as slaves (being their offspring), should enjoy the same privileges (preeminencias) as Spaniards. For these reasons, and because [negros and mulattos] have already been involved in many uprisings and tumults in the Indies, it is best for the crown that free negros and mulattos not be permitted to use offensive or defensive weapons.1