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Title:Slavery beyond slavery: the American South, British imperialism, and the circuits of capital, 1833-1873
Author(s):Sell, Zachary Glenn
Director of Research:Cha-Jua, Sundiata
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Roediger, David; Burton, Antoinette
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Jung, Moon-Kie; Vimalassery, Manu
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:“Slavery Beyond Slavery: The American South, British Imperialism, and the Circuits of Capital, 1833-1873” expands upon W.E.B. Du Bois’s insight that U.S. slavery intensified and transformed the exploitation of labor on a global scale. In places of intense colonial conflict and breakdown—India’s North-Western Provinces, British Honduras, and Queensland, Australia— U.S. settler slavery informed planters and colonial officials in pursuits to reorganize production and transform colonial practices. I argue that in the mid-nineteenth century, the economic dynamism of U.S. settler slavery had broader implications than what is commonly recognized. While imperialists, planters, and capitalists sought to manage the contradictions of empire, race, and capital, those subjected to expropriation often tried and sometimes succeeded in creating alternatives. In response to settler imperial crisis in British Honduras, landholding interests turned first toward bringing emancipated African Americans to the colony. Yet, when African Americans refused to leave the United States, landholders turned toward former white slaveholders to manage Chinese laborers brought to the colony in 1865. In response to planter abuse, Chinese laborers abandoned plantations and joined with the Santa Cruz Maya. The Santa Cruz Maya refused to return laborers to British Honduras stating, according to one frustrated colonial official, that Chinese laborers were “Indians like themselves.” In contrast to such racial remaking in the service of anti-colonial and anti-plantation commonality, in Queensland during the same decade, white settlers developed a white supremacist discourse that argued that Chinese and South Asian exclusion and Aboriginal removal were necessary to stabilize the territory as a racially homogenous white man’s country. This argument depended heavily upon anti-African American racism and often concluded that Black presence had doomed United States democracy. In India’s North-Western Provinces,famine caused by food scarcity was rendered comparable to the experiences that Lancashire cotton workers suffered from due to increased cotton prices brought about by disrupted access to enslaved labor. By considering what binds these histories together, “Slavery Beyond Slavery” takes seriously W.E.B. Du Bois’s contention that slavery ultimately won the Civil War, not just in the United States but in the world. This victory did not depend upon the triumph or failure of planters in Belize or even the American South. Rather, slavery’s triumph after abolition was in the expansion of a racially ordered global economy.
Issue Date:2017-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Zachary Sell
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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