Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies


Staging Slavery: Performances of Colonial Slavery and Race from International Perspectives, 1770-1850

This international analysis of theatrical case studies illustrates the ways that theater was an arena both of protest and, simultaneously, racist and imperialist exploitations of the colonized and enslaved body.

By bringing together performances and discussions of theater culture from various colonial powers and orbits—ranging from Denmark and France to Great Britain and Brazil—this book explores the ways that slavery and hierarchical notions of “race” and “civilization” manifested around the world. At the same time, against the backdrop of colonial violence, the theater was a space that also facilitated reformist protest and served as evidence of the agency of Black people in revolt. Staging Slavery considers the implications of both white-penned productions of race and slavery performed by white actors in blackface makeup and Black counter-theater performances and productions that resisted racist structures, on and off the stage.

With unique geographical perspectives, this volume is a useful resource for undergraduates, graduates, and researchers in the history of theater, nationalism and imperialism, race and slavery, and literature.

About the Editors

Sarah J. Adams is an FWO-postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Literary Studies of Ghent University, where she studies blackface performances on the comic stage of the Low Countries before the heyday of minstrel culture. She is the author of Repertoires of Slavery (Amsterdam University Press, 2023).

Jenna M. Gibbs is an Associate Professor of History at Florida International University. She is the author of Performing the Temple of Liberty (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014). Gibbs is now working on two monographs, one on the global Latrobe family and the other on the past and present African Grove Theatre.

Wendy Sutherland is a Professor of German & Black European and Diaspora Studies at New College of Florida. She is the author of Staging Blackness and Performing Whiteness in Eighteenth-Century German Drama (Routledge, 2016). One of her current projects centers on mapping sites of slavery and colonialism in Germany.

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