Slave by Another Name ? Or How Evil is to Use the Term “Slave”

For long time now we have had this discussion on the use of the word “slave” and “enslaved” to refer to men, women, and children who had the legal status of slave or slaves. It has been argued that the use of the term “slave” is offensive because being a slave is a state and […]


Quick Notes on Why Queen Njinga Matters

This is not an elaborate review, but to honor Women’s History Month, let me tell you why you should read Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen, a biography just published by Africanist historian Linda M. Heywood. This book is the first scholarly biography of Queen Njinga (1582-1663), of one of the most controversial female figures in the history of Africa and the Atlantic […]


The problem of using the term “mistress” to refer to enslaved women

The issue regarding the status of enslaved women as “mistress” is generating discussion on social media, this time because of a tweet by a Washington Post‘s journalist Krissah Thompson on her article highlighting the new findings on Sally Hemings at Monticello. In that tweet, Thompson referred to Hemings as the “mistress” of Thomas Jefferson, and the discussion resulted into a recent Teen Vogue article explaining […]


Meet Ona Judge: Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

The last time I wrote a post here was almost one year ago. As February 2017 comes to an end, and I have been reading so many great books published by women historians, I thought it was time to resume my posts on books, not as elaborated book reviews, but rather as notes that can […]


Memory as a Response to the Problem of Slavery

This text is based on my intervention in the final roundtable of the 2015 Gilder Lehman International Conference held at Yale University, on October 30-31, 2015. I thank David Blight and Marcela Echeverri for inviting me to participate in the conference. As you will see, my intervention refers to several other papers presented during the conference […]


Memory and Slavery: Chico Rei, An “African King” in Brazil

Memorializing slavery and making slavery part of official initiatives remains a problem in a country like Brazil, where slavery was outlawed only in 1888. Obstacles prevent this painful past to become visible in the public space. Moreover, even though the heritage of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade was not always recognized in official initiatives by […]


An “Evil” West African King and the Atlantic Slave Trade

The classic comment stating that “Africans sold Africans” during the Atlantic slave trade is very common in online forums or classroom discussions. Commentators who bring this argument, in order to downplay the magnitude of the slave trade as a human atrocity, fail to understand that during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, Africans did not associate themselves with a […]


Slavery as Caricature

This article is based on my newest book Brazil Through French Eyes: A Nineteenth-Century Artist in in the Tropics published by University of New Mexico Press (2015).   French artist François-Auguste Biard (1799-1882) arrived in Brazil in 1858, ten years after the abolition of slavery in the French colonies. By that time slave imports from […]


Beyond Trafficking and Slavery: The Mythology of Racial Democracy in Brazil

Brazil has been in the news a great deal of late, especially in association with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The most popular images involve football, carnival, samba, sunny beaches, and tanned women in bikinis. Less well known is the history of slavery and racism, which continues to have a profound impact upon Brazilian society. […]