Prospects of Empire: Slavery and Ecology in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain

“Prospects of Empire: Slavery and Ecology in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain” opens on Monday, November 17 at the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, CT and will be on view until May 1, 2015. The exhibit is curated by Heather V. Vermeulen, Doctoral Candidate in African American Studies and American Studies, Yale University and Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. & Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies and Professor of American Studies at Yale. It is part of a larger Yale initiative this fall exploring the visual representations of transatlantic slavery.

The exhibit explores the notion of empire’s “prospects”—its gaze upon bodies and landscapes, its speculations and desires, its endeavors to capitalize upon seized land and labor, as well as its failures to manage enslaved persons and unruly colonial ecologies. It reads latent anxieties in the policing of bodies and borders, both in the colonies and in the metropole, and examines the forces that empire mustered to curtail perceived threats to its regimes of power and knowledge. In addition to the focus on material from the long eighteenth century, the exhibition features a selection of four lithographs from Joscelyn Gardner’s series Creole Portraits III: “bringing down the flowers” (2009-11), a recent joint acquisition by the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. Gardner’s work mines the eighteenth-century Jamaica archive of white English immigrant, overseer, slaveowner, and pen-keeper Thomas Thistlewood, one of whose diaries is on loan from the Beinecke.

There will also be a workshop for graduate students on December 9-10 entitled Representing Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain - more details can be found here.

For more information on the other events around campus, including "Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain" at the Yale Center for British Art and an international conference at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, click here.

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