“understands waiting upon a Gentleman, and looks well in Livery”: Commodification, Resistance, and Labour in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Quebec Slave Advertisements
Art historian Charmaine Nelson, a professor at McGill University in Montreal, is currently the William Lyon Mackenzie King Chair in Canadian Studies at Harvard University.
The study of Canadian slavery has suffered from a national myth that celebrates the nation as the terminus of the Underground Railroad, and a place where good white abolitionists welcomed tortured African Americans who fled north. Far less studied are the histories of French and British enslavement of black and indigenous peoples from the 1600’s until British abolition in 1833.
Professor Nelson seeks to understand the nature of the sale and objectification of enslaved people of African descent in British Quebec. Through an exploration of the various forms of human commodification—auctions, and private and public sales—she will offer evidence about the ethnic make-up of the enslaved population and the nature of their labors, drawing parallels and distinctions between Canada and other transatlantic sites.
Free admission for RH&SQ members; $10 for non-members.
Illustration is from Quebec Gazette, 13 April 1769.
Read more: cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/harvard-research-slavery-ads-newspapers-nova-scotia-1.4287485