Wikipedia:Today's featured article/October 2, 2009

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Depiction of African American slaves by unknown artist

The Slave Community is a book written by historian John W. Blassingame. Published in 1972, it is one of the first historiographies of slavery in the United States (The Old Plantation watercolor pictured) to be presented from the perspective of the enslaved. The Slave Community is a revisionist study challenging previous scholarship that suggests African American slaves were docile and submissive "Sambos" who enjoyed the benefits of a paternalistic master-slave relationship on southern plantations. Using psychology, Blassingame analyzes fugitive slave narratives published in the 19th century to conclude that an independent culture developed among the enslaved and that there were a variety of personality types exhibited by slaves other than the Sambo. Although the importance of The Slave Community was recognized by scholars of American slavery, Blassingame's conclusions, methodology, and sources were heavily criticized. Historians critiqued the use of slave narratives that were seen as unreliable and biased. They questioned Blassingame's decision to exclude the more than 2,000 interviews with former slaves conducted by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s. Historians argued that Blassingame's use of psychological theory proved unhelpful in his interpretation. Blassingame defended his conclusions at a 1976 meeting of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and in 1979 published a revised and enlarged edition of The Slave Community. Despite criticisms, The Slave Community is a foundational text in the study of the life and culture of slaves in the antebellum South. (more...)

Recently featured: Byzantine navyTexas A&M UniversityVauxhall Bridge