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This chapter probes the mobilization of liberated Africans, convicts, slaves, and vagrants to build the Casa de Correção between 1834 and 1850. Drawing from research on how modernizing political elites developed administrative, technical, and identification technologies to render peripatetic peoples legible for the purpose of taxation and labor control, the chapter investigates how the construction of the Casa de Correção evolved into a project of legibility to regulate the effects of the campaign against human trafficking. Through its punitive and labor discipline roles, the penitentiary evolved into an important site of racialization of the poor along cleavages that assigned differentiated treatment by legal status – slave or free – and ethnic origins – European immigrants, Brazilians, or Africans. The penitentiary reinforced existing divisions in Brazilian society between slaves and free, foreigners and nationals, while blurring the lines of distinctions among these categories through the regime of labor and confinement.
Enlightenment philosophy introduced the notion that social evolution and progress resulted from scientific inquiry and technological advancements. This view evolved out of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment idea that all societies progressed in a linear fashion toward modernity, the pinnacle of which was European civilization. In this construction “modern” or “progressive” societies were those that mimicked European cultural, social, economic, and political structures. Western missionaries’ efforts in the nineteenth century to bring “Christianity, commerce and civilization” set in motion a progressive ideology that led to modern development practice in Africa. These three words captured the Enlightenment ideology of social progress, the capitalism of the Industrial Revolution, and the mating of Christian doctrine with secular social Darwinian ideas. By defining poverty as a lack of access to capitalist systems “modern” societies defined any cultures not fully participating in capitalism as poor. These concepts are the bedrock of modern development theory. They presume that Western civilization is the highest form of social development, that all societies must progress in a linear fashion to attain this status, and that development will come through an economic transformation that will reshape social and cultural aspects of societies.
Chapter 6 begins with an analysis of the inter-imperial political context within which the abolition of the slave trade was enacted, focusing in particular on the Danish and British edicts outlawing the trade in 1803 and 1807, respectively. It continues with an examination of the practical implementation of the ban and ends with a more detailed treatment of the continuation of the illicit intercolonial trade as carried out within the microregion of the Leeward Islands. The history of the abolition of the slave trade has most often been told from the perspective of imperial legislators and advocates of abolition. When the implementation of the abolition has been treated with serious effort, it has typically been done either through a top-down analysis of diplomacy and international politics or via studies of the places most notably evading the abolition. Employing a microregional perspective and using the Leeward Islands as the historical case reveals a different side of the story of abolition. This analysis largely confirms the hierarchical dimension of the slave trade abolition in an inter-imperial context, but it also illustrates the vast gaps between imperial policy and colonial practice by showcasing the myriad ways in which local actors and networks circumvented official decrees and continued trading in slaves.
This article examines the journey undertaken by the slave ship Brilhante, captured by a British anti-slave trade patrol off the coast of Brazil in 1838. The ship and its crew were engaged in slave trafficking in contravention of international treaty agreements. In accordance with prize law the Brilhante was condemned by the Anglo-Brazilian mixed commission court in Rio de Janeiro and the slaves on-board were freed and apprenticed for a prescribed number of years. This article argues that during their apprenticeships not only were these Africans treated in the same way as slaves, but they formed similar bonds for survival. Both ethnic solidarity and shipmate bonds, which transcended ethnic boundaries, allowed them to forge new identities. The article demonstrates how the liberated Africans from the ship, who belonged to a larger marginalised group of “recaptives” within the Atlantic World, were thus able to facilitate the achievement of their eventual freedom, and improve the conditions in which they lived.
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