Vincent Brown (NHC Fellow, 2011–12; Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University)
October 18, 2022
In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended the domain of capitalist agriculture, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled continuously to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica organized to throw off that yoke by violence. Their uprising—which became known as Tacky’s Revolt—featured a style of fighting increasingly familiar today: scattered militias opposing great powers, with fighters hard to distinguish from noncombatants. Even after it was put down, the insurgency rumbled throughout the British Empire at a time when slavery seemed the dependable bedrock of its dominion. Tracing the roots, routes, and reverberations of this event across disparate parts of the Atlantic world, historian Vincent Brown will expand our understanding of the relationship between European, African, and American history, as it speaks to our understanding of wars of terror today.