New Book – ‘Freedom as Marronage’

Freedom as Marronage
Neil Roberts
University of Chicago Press 2015
264 pages
Available on Amazon

What is the opposite of freedom? In ‘Freedom as Marronage’, Neil Roberts answers this question with definitive force: slavery, and from there he unveils powerful new insights on the human condition as it has been understood between these poles. Crucial to his investigation is the concept of marronage - a form of slave escape that was an important aspect of Caribbean and Latin American slave systems. Examining this overlooked phenomenon - one of action from slavery and toward freedom - he deepens our understanding of freedom itself and the origin of our political ideals.

Roberts examines the liminal and transitional space of slave escape in order to develop a theory of freedom as marronage, which contends that freedom is fundamentally located within this space - that it is a form of perpetual flight. He engages a stunning variety of writers, including Hannah Arendt, W. E. B. Du Bois, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the Rastafari, among others, to develop a compelling lens through which to interpret the quandaries of slavery, freedom, and politics that still confront us today. The result is a sophisticated, interdisciplinary work that unsettles the ways we think about freedom by always casting it in the light of its critical opposite.

'Particularly powerful is Roberts’s discussion of Coleridge’s impact on Douglass’s thought. Roberts reveals, in Coleridge, a profound existential commitment against bondage and an understanding of freedom that transcends mere liberty.'
Lewis R. Gordon, University of Connecticut, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, and Rhodes University

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