Keynote Speaker: Kristin Mann


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Kristin Mann, Ph.D.

The Transatlantic Passages of Francisco Gomes: Slavery, Freedom, and the Founding of the Brazilian Community in Lagos.

Kristin Mann’s keynote address probes a pivotal period in Lagos’s transition from a cross roads of regional trade and the capital of a small West African coastal kingdom into a global megacity, when the town was incorporated more deeply and directly into Atlantic commerce and culture via the international slave trade. Mann deploys a close reading of British colonial court records, detective work in Brazilian archives, and micro-historical analysis of the experiences of three slaves to show how organizational changes in the conduct of the illegal slave trade following abolition lay the foundation for town’s settlement by freed slaves returned from Brazil during the mid-nineteenth century. These migrants reshaped the town spatially and socially, and they have fired the imaginations of humanists, social scientists, and artists around the globe ever since.


Kristin Mann is Professor of History at Emory University Atlanta Georgia. She is author of Marrying Well: Marriage, Status, and Social Change among the Educated Elite in Colonial Lagos (1985); co-editor of Law and Colonial Africa (1991) and Rethinking the African Diaspora: the Making of a Black Atlantic World in the Bight of Benin and Brazil (2001); and author of Slavery and the Birth of an African City: Lagos, 1760-1900 (2007), which was a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Center’s Frederick Douglass Prize.

She is currently working on a project entitled Trans-Atlantic Lives: Slavery and Freedom in West Africa and Brazil. It uses court records from the British colony of Lagos to identify persons of slave origin mentioned in them and recover information about their lives in West Africa and Brazil. The stories these individuals told in court are being analyzed for the memories they contain of the slave trade, slavery, and freedom on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as for the insights they yield into the social relationships and cultural practices of these slaves and freed people. Further research using archival sources in Brazil and from Nigeria and Britain is fleshing out the biographies of the slaves and freed people identified in the court records, illuminating how they sustained relationships with one another through time and across space. By casting new light on the networks of exchange, sociability, and belief that bridged the Atlantic between the Bight of Benin and Brazil in the nineteenth century, my research is contributing to knowledge about the vibrant diaspora linking these two important regions of the world.

Source: History @Emory