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Event Description

“ ‘He…has the ends of both his great toes frozen off’: Enslaved Fugitives in the Canadian Winter”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. This paper seeks to understand the specific circumstances and perils of winter escapes within the context of eighteenth-century British Quebec. Speaker Bio: 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 seventeen 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 Nineteenth-Century America (2007), Slavery, Geography, and Empire in Nineteenth-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. This event will be taking place online. Attendees will be sent a link to join the event shortly before it starts. If you have any questions, please email

Event Dates
  • December 2, 2020 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM Ended
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Royal Holloway's longstanding Centre for Victorian Studies, one of the leading national and international Centres for Victorian Studies. In 2009, Royal Holloway was the venue for the first summit meeting bringing together all staff belonging to Victorian Studies Centres in the UK.u00a0Unique to the college and its history of excellence in Victorian studies is the world-famous collection of Victorian art; the picture gallery functions as a stunning venue for numerous events as well as an irreplaceable object of study in its own right.u00a0

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