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Unraveling Abolition
Legal Culture and Slave Emancipation in Colombia

$88.00 ( ) USD

Part of Studies in Legal History

  • Date Published: January 2022
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108918275

$ 88.00 USD ( )
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About the Authors
  • Unraveling Abolition tells the fascinating story of slaves, former slaves, magistrates and legal workers who fought for emancipation, without armed struggle, from 1781 to 1830. By centering the Colombian judicial forum as a crucible of antislavery, Edgardo Pérez Morales reveals how the meanings of slavery, freedom and political belonging were publicly contested. In the absence of freedom of the press or association, the politics of abolition were first formed during litigation. Through the life stories of enslaved litigants and defendants, Pérez Morales illuminates the rise of antislavery culture, and how this tradition of legal tinkering and struggle shaped claims to equal citizenship during the anti-Spanish revolutions of the early 1800s. By questioning foundational constitutions and laws, this book uncovers how legal activists were radically committed to the idea that independence from Spain would be incomplete without emancipation for all slaves.

    • Uncovers the crucial role slaves, former slaves, and magistrates played in calling for freedom and citizenship in Colombia
    • Intersects with the broader criticisms of slavery that were taking place at the turn of the nineteenth century
    • One of the first books to exclusively cover the legal history of slavery in Colombia from 1781 to 1830
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Lucid and engrossing, Unraveling Abolition spotlights the enslaved people who spearheaded Colombia’s antislavery legal culture alongside jurists and politicians. This sweeping account brims with insights for historians of republicanism and its limits in the revolutionary Americas.' Caitlin Fitz, Northwestern University

    'Unraveling Abolition is a masterful retelling of the struggle over emancipation at the dawn of the Colombian republic. Edgardo Pérez Morales ably shows the significance of the enslaved and free people who engaged in 'legal tinkering'. By fighting to end legal bondage through the judicial sphere, they remade the law itself. This book will no doubt be a valuable contribution to the fields of slavery and emancipation, legal history, and the Age of Revolutions.' Jason McGraw, Indiana University

    'Unraveling Abolition is a welcome addition to the scholarship on enslaved litigants in Latin America who forged new paths to freedom using the courts. Pérez Morales skillfully demonstrates how enslaved people envisioned emancipation and pushed for abolition far beyond the cautious contours of gradual emancipation in the transition from colony to the republic of Gran Colombia.' Michelle McKinley, University of Oregon School of Law and author of Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Intimacy and Legal Mobilization in Colonial Lima, 1600-1700

    'This book rightly centers the agency of Afro-Colombians for understanding the legal history of slavery and for promoting new ideas of human freedom. Pérez Morales uncovers a rich tradition of enslaved people appropriating the law, and even inventing new legal claims, to push for emancipation, both under Spanish colonialism and in the new independent Colombian republic. A major contribution.' James E. Sanders, author of The Vanguard of the Atlantic World: Creating Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in Nineteenth-Century Latin America

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2022
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108918275
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of abbreviations
    Prologue: antislavery, abolition, and the judicial forum
    1. Raynal in the new kingdom?
    2. Landscapes of slavery, rumors of freedom
    3. Popayán: prudent legislation
    4. Cartagena: equality and natural law
    5. Antioquia: free womb, captive slaves
    6. An exegesis of liberty
    Epilogue: the slaves before the law

  • Author

    Edgardo Pérez Morales, University of Southern California
    Edgardo Pérez Morales is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Southern California. He specializes in Colombia and its connections with the Caribbean and the Atlantic World. He is the author of No Limits to Their Sway: Cartagena's Privateers and the Masterless Caribbean in the Age of Revolutions.

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