The Queering Slavery Working Group was formed to discuss issues related to reading, researching, and writing histories of intimacy, sex, and sexuality during the period of Atlantic slavery. Guided by the question, “What would it mean to Queer Slavery?,” the group seeks out queer encounters in slavery’s archive. Operating across page and screen, the Queering Slavery Working Group brings discussions happening in black queer studies, queer of color studies, and histories of enslaved and free people of African descent across the diaspora into lurid and profane contact.

At present, there are no working groups or conference spaces dedicated to producing scholarship at the intersection of queer studies, queer of color studies, and histories of slavery. But there is growing momentum for just such work. In 2007, Gwyn Campbell (McGill) at McGill University organized “Sex, Power and Slavery: The Dynamics of Carnal Relations under Enslavement in the Indian Ocean World,” a symposium in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. In 2011, Daina Ramey Berry (UT-Austin) and Leslie Harris (Emory University) organized “Sexuality & Slavery: Exposing the History of Enslaved People in the Americas,” at University of Texas-Austin. Both conferences were incredibly successful and resulted in edited volumes, in progress. However, histories of slavery have yet to connect with queer history or queer of color theory in any meaningful way.

Our goal is to create just such a connection in a hybrid digital and analog space shaped by members of the Queering Slavery Working Group and accountable to the queer of color community at large.

This group is a work in progress. If you’d like more information about how to be involved, have general interest or questions, or know the perfect person for this project, please click through below:

Form: Queering Slavery Working Group

Please Note: #QSWG is community accountable and member-driven. We intend to create an inclusive and holistic space where we can learn from each other, support each others work, and provide each other with useful feedback. We are two cis* women of color but encourage and solicit participation from interested trans* and genderqueer scholars. We want this to be a valuable and valued experience for everyone involved.

Featured Image Credit: M.Chambon,Le Commerce de l’Amerique par Marseille (Avignon,1764), vol. 2, plate XI, facing p. 400 (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University) as shown on www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.
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