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Abstract: Liberia, the West African nation, whose name connotes freedom, was the creation of the American Colonisation Society (ACS) whose initial aim was to rid the United States of a growing population of ‘free people of colour.’ Yet it became a unique imaginative space on to which were projected the hopes, dreams and fears of various groups in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This study examines the various ways that the country (established as a colony in 1820 and declared a republic in 1847) was imagined, constructed and represented in a wide variety of American, Liberian and English texts from 1820-1940. Ultimately, Liberia came to be widely regarded as not merely the reversal of the Middle Passage but a path whereby the descendants of slavery, figured as socially and spiritually unmoored in the New World, might be anchored and regenerated in Africa. For the pioneering members of the free black community and newly emancipated slaves who colonised it, Liberia came to be represented as a recovered homeland, a space in which the experience of New World slavery could be rendered meaningful in the secular and sacred arenas through nation-building and the Christianisation of the African continent. White Americans promoted colonisation as the Manifest Destiny of the free black community, giving them the opportunity to carry the ideals of revolutionary America to their ancestral home. Late nineteenth-century American and Caribbean black commentators figured Liberia as a base for a Pan-African nation that presented a historic opportunity to define the ultimate destiny of the African Diaspora. These different representations positioned the Black Republic as a supposed utopia where black masculinity and femininity, so deeply undermined by the institution of slavery, could be restored and revitalised. For contemporary English and European visitors, the nation was a troubling anomaly in a continent ruled by European imperial powers. The accounts of these travellers to Liberia represented it as a state in crisis, whose failure they attributed largely to the incapacity of African people for self-government. Liberia represents a re-figuring of the very concept of settler colonialism. Its distinctive and contested nature offers a singular paradigm that transforms and destabilises understandings of discourses regarding race and colonial relationships, complicates ideas of liberty and agency, and widens the scope of abolitionism, black nationalism and American imperialism. It adds a new dimension to our conceptualisation of the Black Atlantic and extends the developing genre of black American literature beyond the borders of the United States.








Abstract: This article explores the entanglements of Australia and New Caledonia as settler colonies with convict histories. Existing historiography focuses on the importance of the Australian model in inspiring the French to transport convicts to settler colonies, and has explored the moral panic that erupted over the menace of escaped French convicts invading the Australian colonies after the abolition of British convict transportation. My analysis shifts the focus onto the construction of settler colonial authority, analysing the ways in which comparisons drawn by contemporary observers of New Caledonia and Australia served primarily to solidify the legitimacy of settler rule in Australia and increase its regional hegemony into the first few decades of the twentieth century. Drawing on original French and English‐language sources, including the writing of the obscure French convict poet Julien de Sanary, this article makes the case for understanding New Caledonia and its bagne not as unwanted reminders of Australia’s penal origins, but rather as useful sites of projection for settlers in Australia. Constant arguments about the archaic and authoritarian nature of French penal policy and colonialism helped erase the memory of convictism and strengthen settler authority and legitimacy in Australia and internationally. By considering the trans‐imperial entanglements of Australia and New Caledonia, we can further reveal the dynamics of settler colonialism and the processes of disavowal and disassociation that sustain it.





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