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Slavery and Resistance (Sergio Lussana)

This session examines slave resistance in the Americas. It explores why there were more slave revolts in the Caribbean and Latin American than in the United States. It pays particular attention to the forms of resistance employed by those enslaved in the United States.


  • Why were there fewer slave revolts in the United States than elsewhere in the Americas?
  • What forms did resistance typically take for the enslaved in the American South?
  • What is James C. Scott’s thesis? Do you agree that the forms of resistance he discusses ‘achieved far more in their unannounced, limited, and truculent way than the few heroic and brief armed uprisings about which so much has been written’? (p. 34, Weapons of the Weak).
  • How does Stephanie Camp use James C. Scott’s theory in her examination of enslaved women and resistance? What do you make of her arguments?



Required Texts

Eugene Genovese, From Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modern World (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), [chap. 1.]

James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), [available as ebook in Warwick library]; James C. Scott, Domination and the Art of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

Raymond A. Bauer and Alice H. Bauer, ‘Day to Day Resistance to Slavery’, The Journal of Negro History, 27:4 (October, 1942), pp. 388-419.

Stephanie M. H. Camp, ‘The Pleasures of Resistance: Enslaved Women and Body Politics in the Plantation South, 1830-1861’, The Journal of Southern History, 68:3 (August, 2002), pp. 533-72.

Supplementary Readings

Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. 5th ed. ed. New York: International Publishers, 1987.

———. Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion. New York: Published for A.I.M.S. by Humanities Press, 1966.

Camp, Stephanie M. H. Closer to Freedom : Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill, N.C. ; London: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Egerton, Douglas R. Death or Liberty : African Americans and Revolutionary America. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

———. Gabriel's Rebellion : The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

———. He Shall Go out Free : The Lives of Denmark Vesey. 1st ed. ed. Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1999.

Franklin, John Hope, and Loren Schweninger. Runaway Slaves : Rebels on the Plantation. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Frey, Sylvia R. Water from the Rock : Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Greenberg, Kenneth S. Nat Turner : A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Johnson, Michael P. "Runaway Slaves and the Slave Communities in South Carolina, 1799 to 1830." The William and Mary Quarterly: A Magazine of Early American History 38, no. 3 (1981): 418-41.

Jones, Norrece T. Born a Child of Freedom, yet a Slave : Mechanisms of Control and Strategies of Resistance in Antebellum South Carolina. 1st ed. ed. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1990.

Lichtenstein, Alex. "'That Disposition to Theft, with Which They Have Been Branded': Moral Economy, Slave Management, and the Law." Journal of Social History 21, no. 3 (1988): 413-40.

Lockley, Timothy James. Maroon Communities in South Carolina : A Documentary Record. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 2009.

Meaders, Daniel E. "South Carolina Fugitives as Viewed through Local Colonial Newspapers with Emphasis on Runaway Notices 1732-1801." Journal of Negro History 60, no. 2 (1975): 288-319.

Morgan, Philip. "Colonial South Carolina Runaways: Their Significance for Slave Culture." Slavery & Abolition 6, no. 3 (1985): 57-78.

Mullin, Gerald W. Flight and Rebellion. Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Pearson, Edward. "'A Countryside Full of Flames': A Reconsideration of the Stono Rebellion and Slave Rebelliousness in the Early Eighteenth-Century South Carolina Lowcountry." Slavery & Abolition 17, no. 2 (1996): 22-50.

Pearson, Edward A. Designs against Charleston : The Trial Record of the Denmark Vesey Slave Conspiracy of 1822. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Perrin, Liese M. "Resisting Reproduction: Reconsidering Slave Contraception in the Old South." Journal of American Studies 35, no. 2 (2001): 255-74.

Sidbury, James. Ploughshares into Swords : Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel's Virginia, 1730-1810. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Smith, Mark M. "Remembering Mary, Shaping Revolt: Reconsidering the Stono Rebellion." Journal of Southern History 67, no. 3 (2001): 513-34.

———. Stono : Documenting and Interpreting a Southern Slave Revolt. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 2005.

Thornton, John K. "African Dimensions of the Stono Rebellion." The American Historical Review 96, no. 4 (1991): 1101-13.

Wood, Betty. "Some Aspects of Female Resistance to Chattel Slavery in Low Country Georgia, 1763-1815." Historical Journal 30, no. 3 (1987): 602-22.

Young, Jason R. Rituals of Resistance : African Atlantic Religion in Kongo and the Lowcountry South in the Era of Slavery. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007.