Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation
This collection of eleven original essays interrogates the concept of freedom and recenters our understanding of the process of emancipation. Who defined freedom, and what did freedom mean to nineteenth-century African Americans, both during and after slavery? Did freedom just mean the absence of constraint and a widening of personal choice, or did it extend to the ballot box, to education, to equality of opportunity? In examining such questions, rather than defining every aspect of postemancipation life as a new form of freedom, these essays develop the work of scholars who are looking at how belonging to an empowered government or community defines the outcome of emancipation.Some essays in this collection disrupt the traditional story and time-frame of emancipation. Others offer trenchant renderings of emancipation, with new interpretations of the language and politics of democracy. Still others sidestep academic conventions to speak personally about the politics of emancipation historiography, reconsidering how historians have used source material for understanding subjects such as violence and the suffering of refugee women and children. Together the essays show that the question of freedom--its contested meanings, its social relations, and its beneficiaries--remains central to understanding the complex historical process known as emancipation. Contributors: Justin Behrend, Gregory P. Downs, Jim Downs, Carole Emberton, Eric Foner, Thavolia Glymph, Chandra Manning, Kate Masur, Richard Newman, James Oakes, Susan O'Donovan, Hannah Rosen, Brenda E. Stevenson.
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About the Author
DAVID W. BLIGHT is a professor of history at Yale University, the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale, and the author of several books, most recently, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era. Jim Downs (Editor)
JIM DOWNS is a professor of history and American studies at Connecticut College. He is the author of Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction and the coeditor of Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation (Georgia) and Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in North America.