Marcus Filippello, “Litigating Liberation: Hearing Recaptive African Voices and Discerning Meaning in Colonial Court Records”
In the mid- to late-19th century, tens of thousands of “liberated” Africans freed from illicit slaving vessels by the British Navy entered contracts to work on plantations throughout British and French colonies. Although the British Liberated African Department kept extensive records, data revealing specific information about individuals’ lives is fragmented. In this project, I am examining records of court cases brought by liberated Africans against their employers to shed new light on the nature of mobilization throughout imperial worlds and how these individuals navigated their status as ostensibly free, yet subjugated peoples.
I am an Associate Professor with the Department of History at UWM. In addition to teaching African and global history, I conduct research on colonial and independent eras in West Africa. The University of Minnesota Press published my book, The Nature of the Path: Reading a West African Road in 2017.