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Freedom's Seekers

Essays on Comparative Emancipation

Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie’s Freedom’s Seekers offers a bold and innovative intervention into the study of emancipation as a transnational phe-nomenon and serves as an important contribution to our understanding of the remaking of the nineteenth-century Atlantic Americas.
Drawing on decades of research into slave and emancipation societies, Kerr-Ritchie is attentive to those who sought but were not granted freedom, and those who resisted enslavement individually as well as collectively on behalf of their communities. He explores the many roles that fugitive slaves, slave soldiers, and slave rebels played in their own societies. He likewise explicates the lives of individual freedmen, freedwomen, and freed children to show how the first free-born generation helped shape the terms and conditions of the post-slavery world.
Freedom’s Seekers is a signal contribution to African Diaspora studies, especially in its rigorous respect for the agency of those who sought and then fought for their freedom, and its consistent attention to the transnational dimensions of emancipation.

JEFFREY R. KERR-RITCHIE, associate professor of history at Howard University, is the author of Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World and Freedpeople in the Tobacco South: Virginia, 1860–1900.

Praise for Freedom's Seekers

“Kerr-Ritchie adeptly weaves together rich social history and international political economy. This is no small task. He provides a lot of evidence to support his analyses, along with an extensive bibliography. Freedom’s Seekers . . . is subaltern history at its best. This work is one of the most informative and important books focusing on emancipations and the Atlantic world published in the last two decades.”—American Historical Review

“Kerr-Ritchie’s lively and suggestive essays reconceptualize emancipation studies through broad comparative methodology. . . Highly recommended.”—CHOICE

“Each essay offers a hemispheric view of emancipation and the activities of 'self-emancipators,' and together they serve Kerr-Ritchie’s more general call for a reconsideration of the political ramifications of comparative history.”—Journal of American History

Freedom’s Seekers is an evocative study that quickly captures the reader’s attention and interest. . . . Kerr-Ritchie’s knowledge and use of the scholarship and the primary sources is very impressive as he comfortably explores dozens of countries on five continents.”—Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

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