Gilder Lehrman Book Breaks features the most exciting history scholars in America discussing their books with host William Roka live, followed by a Q&A with home audiences.
Join us online on Sunday, March 21 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET (11: 00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PT) with Sophie White, as she discusses her book "Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana."
In eighteenth-century New Orleans, the legal testimony of some 150 enslaved women and men—like the testimony of free colonists—was meticulously recorded and preserved. Questioned in criminal trials as defendants, victims, and witnesses about attacks, murders, robberies, and escapes, they answered with stories about themselves, stories that rebutted the premise on which slavery was founded.
Focusing on four especially dramatic court cases, “Voices of the Enslaved” draws us into Louisiana’s courtrooms, prisons, courtyards, plantations, bayous, and convents to understand how the enslaved viewed and experienced their worlds. As they testified, these individuals charted their movement between West African, Indigenous, and colonial cultures; they pronounced their moral and religious values; and they registered their responses to labor, to violence, and, above all, to the intimate romantic and familial bonds they sought to create and protect.
Carefully assessing what we can discover, what we might guess, and what has been lost forever, Sophie White offers both a richly textured account of slavery in French Louisiana and a powerful meditation on the limits and possibilities of the archive.
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