On Friday, 31st May (5.30pm - 6.45pm), Professor Carrie Shanafelt (Fairleigh Dickinson University) will give a paper at Sophia University (Yotsuya campus) titled "Cugoano's Economics: Urban Space and Labor in an Eighteenth-Century Slavery Narrative."
"In Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano describes his encounters with Caribbean and British labor practices from the perspective of West African ethics. Through an Afrocentric interpretation of John Locke, Adam Smith, and the Christian Bible, Cugoano challenges the emergent libertarian discourse of human rights in the context of Atlantic slavery. Cugoano concludes that the escalation of economic and moral debts incurred through abuse of African and indigenous American peoples can only be ended by a radical form of global forgiveness. Unlike his contemporary Olaudah Equiano, who urged Africans to “modernize” by adopting European technology and competing in global markets, Cugoano instead demanded that Europe must adopt African economic ethics in order to live up to the promise of their own discourse of human rights.
This talk considers Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments in the context of urban space, global economics, and travel writing of the late eighteenth century. His comparative descriptions of labor in West Africa, the Caribbean, and London reveal structural inequalities in economic systems of profit that ultimately impoverish not only enslaved and colonized persons, but also entire nations. Cugoano’s tripartite proposal for the forgiveness of British national debt—both financial and moral—offers an imagined occasion for reckoning the accounts of the past for a more inclusive and sustainable economic and political future. Dr Shanafelt compares Cugoano’s plan for total global debt forgiveness to David Graeber’s 2011 anthropological analysis of the global debt crisis, Debt: The First 5000 Years. She argues that, like Cugoano, Graeber also analyzes European capitalist economics through an Afrocentric account of alternatives to class stratification and debt slavery."
Venue: Sophia University, Building 2, room 508.
Event is free and open to all. See here for access map (nearest station is Yotsuya).
No registration is required (but please email the organizer if you are interested in coming to dinner afterwards).
Tokyo Humanities - Events
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