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FT-265265-19

Jose Guadalupe Ortega
Whittier College (Whittier, CA 90601-4446)
Freedom, Identity, and the History of Empires in Atlantic Cuba, 1794–1817

A book-length study about a group of West African women who sued for their freedom and the legal evolution of personhood and citizenship for captives in the Atlantic Slave Trade during the era of the Enlightenment, 1794–1817. 

My project examines a maritime case resulting in numerous freedom suits in Havana, linking members of multiple societies from Western Africa, Cuba, Spain, France, and Britain in order to assess the fluid foundations of a system of transatlantic jurisprudence with respect to slavery and freedom during the early 1800s. It analyses a series of freedom suits initiated by a group of illegally enslaved women of African descent who formed a legal strategy based on their ethnic identity and the memory of their slave voyage to Cuba. The study points to the creation of a modern world comprised of diverse but integrated cultures bound by international law and a growing intolerance to slavery. It speaks to the development of modern ideals of legal personhood and citizenship and their application to peoples of African descent as well as the construction of viable community based networks by enslaved peoples to help each other in their struggles to free themselves, their families, and kin.

Project fields:
Latin American History

Program:
Summer Stipends

Division:
Research Programs

Totals:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2019 – 8/31/2019