Rutgers University-Camden Hosts “Diverse Unfreedoms and Their Ghosts”

On March 31, 2017, the Graduate School, Africana Studies, Childhood Studies, English, History, Liberal Studies, and Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice will so-sponsor a one-day conference that brings together research on the diversity of practices, identities, and institutions of unfreedom—in the past and present, in the United States and beyond—and how the ghosts of those diverse unfreedoms continue to inhabit, animate, and haunt the present. “Diverse Unfreedoms and Their Ghosts” aims to explore what freedoms and unfreedoms mean by examining four key moments or sites:

  • Relationships between diverse unfreedoms (such as slavery, imprisonment, captivity, serfdom, domestic service, caste, etc.) as people understand and negotiate them, in autobiographical narratives, fiction, court cases, disputes, etc.
  • Transitions between social institutions and practices of unfreedom.
  • Aspirations for freedom and the kind of utopian futures that are proposed as part of them.
  • The legacies, echoes, and traces of unfreedom in a context of “freedom.”

Towards these ends, conference presentations will tackle a range of formations related to rethinking freedom and unfreedom in the United States and beyond, including (but not limited to) the meanings of democracy in post-apartheid South Africa, the traces of chattel bondage in the post-Reconstruction South, the surveillance of black women in public housing in the northeastern United States, the status of so-called liberated children in late-nineteenth century Senegal, definitions of autonomy in an Indonesian boarding school for girls, stasis and stillness as radical and redemptive political strategies, and apologies for white supremacy in the Civil Rights South.

Dr. Orlando Patterson, a historical and cultural sociologist, is John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, will deliver the keynote address at 4:15 p.m.

Conference registration is now open.  Visit the conference website for a detailed schedule.

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