Tutor: Jesús Sanjurjo
Module type: MA Option
Module code: HIS00110M
The history of Spanish abolitionism is a story of political failure, in which anti-slave trade and anti-slavery ideas remained for a long time marginal and limited to the endeavour of some few activists. Between 1800 and 1870, more than 700,000 African men, women and children were introduced in Cuba, the most important remaining colony of a sinking empire.
Since the early abolitionists discourses advanced by Isidoro de Antillón, José María Blanco-White, Miguel Guridi and Agustín de Argüelles, in the 1800s and 1810s, to the anti-slavery poetry of Concepción Arenal, in the second half of the 1860s, abolitionist activists advanced the cause of freedom and racial justice through a multiplicity of institutions and initiatives. The period considered here under the ‘Age of Abolition’, spans for almost a century, between 1807, when Britain abolished and began an international crusade against the slave trade, and 1886, when slavery was finally abolished in Spanish Cuba.
The module is designed to introduce students to the history of slavery and the slave trade in the Spanish Empire as a stand-alone subject, by focusing on how abolitionist ideas were shaped, transformed and developed in Spain and the Spanish Caribbean. Drawing from the foundational works of historians such as Manuel Barcia, Ada Ferrer, Josep Fradera, and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, the module will go beyond national and local historical narratives, fomenting a dialogue between Spanish and Portuguese-speaking historiographies and their Anglophone counterpart.
Seminar topics may include: