Centre for Victorian Studies and Royal Holloway Art Collections Talk
“ ‘He…has the ends of both his great toes frozen off’: Enslaved Fugitives in the Canadian Winter”(1): Centre for Victorian Studies and Royal Holloway Art Collections Talk
Royal Holloway’s Art Collections and Centre for Victorian Studies (CVS) are very proud to be jointly hosting Dr Charmaine A Nelson, Professor of Art History and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement, Department of Art History and Contemporary Culture, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) to speak on an area of Transatlantic Slavery which has previously received little scholarly attention.
Although Transatlantic Slavery is generally acknowledged as a tropical enterprise involving plantation economies, slavery also transpired in northern and southern regions of the Americas (i.e. Canada and Argentina) where temperate climates meant cold winters with snow and ice accumulation. Due to the scholarly neglect of northern, slave minority sites like Canada, the impact of cold weather climates on various aspects of the lives, cultures, and resistance of enslaved Africans has yet to be fully explored. One significant archive for the study of these issues is fugitive slave advertisements. Found throughout the Transatlantic World, fugitive slave advertisements demonstrate the ubiquity of African resistance to slavery. Abundant with details like the names, speech, accents, language, mannerisms, and skills of the fugitives, in Quebec, such notices also frequently recounted the nature of cold-weather dress, the peril of winter escapes, and the damage done to the bodies of the enslaved from exposure to the cold. While running away was a year-round tactic of slave resistance in tropical regions, in Canada, it was unquestionably seasonal with summer and fall escapes dominating. Therefore, Canadian fugitive slave notices for winter escapes demand that we consider the extraordinarily perilous circumstances in which enslaved people sought their freedom. Her paper seeks to understand the specific circumstances and perils of winter escapes within the context of eighteenth-century British Quebec.
Charmaine A Nelson is a Professor of Art History and a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University in Halifax, CANADA where she is also the founding director of the first-ever institute focused on the study of Canadian Slavery. Prior to this appointment she worked at McGill University (Montreal) for 17 years. Nelson has made ground-breaking contributions to the fields of the Visual Culture of Slavery, Race and Representation, and Black Canadian Studies. Nelson has published seven books including The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in 19th-Century America (2007), Slavery, Geography, and Empire in 19th-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica (2016), and Towards an African Canadian Art History: Art, Memory, and Resistance (2018). She is actively engaged with lay audiences through her media work including ABC, CBC, CTV, and City TV News, The Boston Globe, BBC One’s “Fake or Fortune,” and PBS’ “Finding your Roots”. She blogs for the Huffington Post Canada and writes for The Walrus. In 2017, she was the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University.
 Azariah Pretchard Senr., “RUN away from the Subscriber,” Quebec Gazette, 22 May 1794; transcribed in Frank Mackey, “Appendix I: Newspaper Notices,” Done with Slavery: The Black Fact in Montreal 1760-1840 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010), p337.
Attendees will be sent a link to join the event two hours before it starts.