F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Graduate Colloquium by Orrieann Florius

Today, I am reflecting upon a very interesting and inspiring conversation hosted by Orrie Florius, an English department graduate student here at Howard. In her discussion on her proposed dissertation, she spoke about maroon spaces in the works of contemporary Caribbean fiction. What appears to be unique and central to her project is representation of psychological marronage. Orrie recenters the conversation of maroon spaces and maronage which typically center the physical practice of maronage resistance wherein enslaved African people fled to colonial plantations and created for themselves their own liberated communities apart from the plantation. In her discussion of Marlon James' Book of Night Women and V.S. Naipaul's A House For Mr Biswas, Orrie demonstrates how Caribbean authors make use of a psychological marronage as means of personal and collective resistance to slavery and contemporary legacies of slavery. 

Such conversation has reminded me of Na’im Akbar’s Breaking The Chains of Psychological Slavery in which he situates slavery as a mental phenomenon. According to Akbar, the slavery  tha captures the minf and imprisona the motivation, perceptions, aspiration and identity in a web of anti-self images, generating a personal and collective self-destruction, is more cruel than the shackles on the wrists and ankles (Akbar v-vi). The slavery that feeds on the mind, invading the soul of man, destroying his loyalties to himself and establishing allegiance to forces  which destroy him, is an even worse form of capture (Akbar vi). 


Akbar, Naʼim, and Thomas Rasheed. Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery.

            Mind Productions & Associates, 1999.




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