Week 4: Jessica Parr, ‘To Drink Samaria’s Flood’

Join us on Wednesday 6th November at 5pm for the third OxEARS of Michaelmas Term, where Jessica Parr will be joining us to present her new book project. We will meet in seminar room 1 at the Rothermere American Institute on South Parks Road, and head to the pub for a drink and dinner afterwards. All are welcome!

‘I am currently at work on a book that explores the meanings of “slavery” and “freedom” in the British and Black Atlantic Worlds between 1660 and 1830. In the white Anglo-American context, “slavery” and “freedom” were discussed in political, legal, and religious terms. This dialogue led to metaphysical understandings of chattel slavery in the British Empire, and involving political, legal, and religious structures that legitimized the permanent enslavement of Africans. While only a relatively small minority of Englishmen (later Britons) raised political, legal, or moral problems with slavery, the institution of slavery nonetheless needed to be defined, and particularly how it contrasted with what it meant to be English in the early years of Britain’s direct involvement with the slave trade. For thinkers and writers of the Black Atlantic, “slavery” and “freedom” were discussed primarily on religious and political terms, engaging with the Anglo-American interpretations of law and religious designed to disenfranchise them. What began as a means to describe and legitimize chattel slavery was reinterpreted by writers of the Black Atlantic who, from the 1760s onward, used the political and religious language in their own terms to describe a post-slavery Black Atlantic.’

Dr Parr is an assistant professor at Simmons University in Boston, and author of Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon (2015).

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