From African to Creole: Examining Creolization through the Art and Fugitive Slave Advertisements of Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-Century Canada and Jamaica

Institutional Member: 
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Beaverbrook Art Gallery

Dr. Charmaine Nelson is the first and currently only black professor within the discipline of Art History at a Canadian University. She is a world-class expert on Trans Atlantic Slavery Studies and Black Diaspora Studies as it intersects with Art History and Visual Culture. The author/editor of seven books, in this Open Academy event Dr. Nelson will use Canada and Jamaica as connected colonial locales to explore fugitive slave advertisement as visual culture that can disclose details about the process of creolization in temperate (Canada, slave minority) and tropical (Jamaica, slave majority) sites of empire. Beginning with the premise that fugitive slave advertisements were “portraits” (although extremely dubious ones) of the enslaved, this lecture combines an art historical examination of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century fugitive slave advertisements with genre studies (images of human activity) of black slaves to begin to recuperate the ethnicity, regional origins, individuality, and humanity of enslaved blacks and to examine the process and visual representation of creolization within the Trans Atlantic context of (British) Canada and Jamaica. Our Atlantic Canadian expert, Dr. Stefanie Kennedy, whose research explores fugitive slave advertisements as they intersect with disability, will provide an introductory commentary on the significant of Dr. Nelson’s work, tying into public spaces of art exhibition such as art galleries. What Dr. Nelson’s research shows is that there is racialized bias in sites of cultural collecting such as museums and archives, which suggests the need to reassess and reactivate existing materials in anti-racist and anti-colonial ways.