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Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation

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If the 1619 Project illuminated the ways in which life in the United States has been shaped by the existence of slavery, this “historical, literary masterpiece” (Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy) focuses on emancipation and how its afterlife further codified the racial caste system—instead of obliterating it.

To understand why the shadow of slavery still haunts us today, we must look closely at the way it ended. Between the 1770s and 1880s, emancipation processes took off across the Atlantic world. But far from ushering in a new age of human rights and universal freedoms, these emancipations further codified the racial caste systems they claimed to disrupt.

In this paradigm-altering book, acclaimed historian and professor Kris Manjapra identifies five types of emancipations across the globe and reveals that their perceived failures were not failures at all, but the predictable outcomes of policies designed first and foremost to preserve the status quo of racial oppression. In the process, Manjapra shows how, amidst this unfinished history, grassroots Black organizers and activists have become custodians of collective recovery and remedy; not only for our present, but also for our relationship with the past.

Black Ghost of Empire will rewire readers’ understanding of the world in which we live. Timely, lucid, and crucial to our understanding of contemporary society, this book shines a light into the gap between the idea of slavery’s end and the reality of its continuation—exposing to whom a debt was paid and to whom a debt is owed.

ISBN-13: 9781982123475

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Date: 04-19-2022

Pages: 256

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Kris Manjapra was born in the Caribbean of mixed African and Indian parentage. He grew up in Canada and completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard. He has lived in the USA ever since. He is a professor of history at Tufts University, and a recipient of the 2015 Emerging Scholar Award by Diverse magazine. He has held fellowships at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study, at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and at UCLA. The author of Black Ghost of Empire, he has also written Colonialism in Global Perspective, Age of Entanglement: German and Indian Intellectuals Across Empire, M.N. Roy: Cosmopolitanism and Colonial Marxism, and Cosmopolitan Thought Zones of South Asia.

Table of Contents

Note on Terminology 11

Global Emancipations Map 12

Introduction: Emancipation and the Void 15

Chapter 1 Making Africans Pay, Gradually, in the American North 33

Chapter 2 Punishing the Black Nation in Haiti 96

Chapter 3 British Antislavery and the Emancipation of Property 139

Chapter 4 Rewarding Perpetrators and Abandoning Victims Across the Caribbean 186

Chapter 5 From Civil War to Dirty War Against Black Lives 224

Chapter 6 Global Jim Crow and Emancipation in Africa 278

Conclusion: The Insurgent Presence of Reparations 348

Acknowledgments 367

Notes 369

Selected Bibliography 425

Photo Credits 451