Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves: America and the Indian Ocean in the Age of Abolition and Empire

Gunja SenGupta, Awam Amkpa

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In the nineteenth century, global systems of capitalism and empire knit the North Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds into international networks in contest over the meanings of slavery and freedom. Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves mines multinational archives to illuminate the Atlantic reverberations of US mercantile projects, "free labor" experiments, and slaveholding in western Indian Ocean societies. Gunja SenGupta and Awam Amkpa profile transnational human rights campaigns. They show how the discourses of poverty, kinship, and care could be adapted to defend servitude in different parts of the world, revealing the tenuous boundaries that such discourses shared with liberal contractual notions of freedom. An intercontinental cast of empire builders and émigrés, slavers and reformers, a "cotton queen" and courtesans, and fugitive "slaves" and concubines populates the pages, fleshing out on a granular level the interface between the personal, domestic, and international politics of "slavery in the East" in the age of empire. By extending the transnational framework of US slavery and abolition histories beyond the Atlantic, Gunja SenGupta and Awam Amkpa recover vivid stories and prompt reflections on the comparative workings of subaltern agency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of California Press
Number of pages359
ISBN (Electronic)9780520389151
ISBN (Print)9780520389137
StatePublished - Feb 7 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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