About the Canada Conference
By Invitation, Only
This workshop seeks to contribute to the study of slave resistance through a focus on the enslaved fugitive. The act of running away, literally stealing oneself from one's owner, was a ubiquitous practice across the Americas which resulted in a compelling archive of partial narratives or "portraits" of the enslaved - published as fugitive slave advertisements. Larger narratives too, often endorsed by white abolitionists, came to create a unique literary genre known as the fugitive slave narrative. However, the assembled scholars will push beyond the more entrenched histories of the most famous fugitives; those who have been remembered primarily due to permanent escape. Instead, we challenge the often-assumed definition of the "successful" fugitives, as those who eluded recapture. While for the fugitive, that was surely the goal, for the contemporary scholar who has inherited the fugitive slave archives, the many who escaped temporarily have also provided us with invaluable information about their lives, experiences, and the processes of their escapes. The workshop creates the space for scholars to think creatively about the nature of the representation of the fugitive, both externally (by the white slave owners, surrogates, or sympathizers), and the possibilities of self-representation (where they existed). While some scholars will be working directly with fugitive slave advertisements, other papers are rooted in other events, artworks, material culture, primary, and archival sources. We collectively seek new ways to re-humanize the enslaved and to reactivate their histories and experiences.