Women's History Colloquium: Natasha Lightfoot

Slonim Living Room / Stone Room

Open to the public

/ Thursday


So Far to Leeward: Eliza Moore’s Circuitous Paths to Freedom in the Caribbean

Portrait of Natasha LightfootNatasha Lightfoot explores the late 1830s freedom petitions of Eliza Moore, an Antiguan-born domestic who strategically utilized the news of abolition’s 1834 passage in the British Caribbean to facilitate her self-emancipation from the Danish Caribbean. That slender archive, and particularly Moore’s representation of her experiences in a singular self-authored letter to her sister raises intriguing questions about enslaved black mobility coincident with but not within the transatlantic slave trade; and the particular forms of exploitation at work in women’s enslavement. In this letter, Moore explains “how [she] came to be so far to Leeward from [her] native home.”  Eliza Moore’s experiences in kinship with the enslaved domestic women in her life, and as a mother to three sons, at least one of which was conceived via sexual encounters with a more privileged man than herself, informed her life of simultaneous movement and containment. This complex web of relationships supported Moore’s savvy and her ability to secure her liberation.

Natasha Lightfoot is an Associate Professor in the Columbia University Department of History. Her research and teaching interests include Atlantic slavery and emancipation; black community formation and encounters with the state; and ideas and practices of freedom in the nineteenth-century Anglophone Caribbean. She is the author of Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation which focuses on black working people’s struggles and everyday forms of liberation in British colonial Antigua after slavery’s end.