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CRRS Friday Workshop — Tamara Walker

September 27, 2019 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Histoire Naturelle des Indes (c. 1586, MA 3900, fol. 86).

Tamara Walker University of Toronto
“‘Their eating was a spectacle’: Cultures of Food and Consumption in the Southern Pacific”

Abstract: For European pirates and privateers making incursions into the Southern Pacific to pillage the wealth that circulated in the region, satisfying hunger was a necessary – if distracting – part of their experience at sea. It required a delicate brand of diplomacy, a willingness to engage in trade, the forceful deployment of violence, or some combination thereof, depending on the temperaments – and level of desperation – of those on land an on board the ship. More importantly, though, it called for a profound degree of trust in those who helped them gain access to food. This group was primarily comprised of the black men and women they took captive during raids of slave ships, merchant vessels, and port cities, who possessed the local and scientific knowledge to determine which parts of which plants, fruits, and animals could be eaten or even treat diseases. In drawing upon the accounts of those pirates and privateers, my paper centers the intellectual labor of African-descent and indigenous men and women in the Southern Pacific. It highlights the ways they deployed their knowledge in service to their captors, often against their will but other times as a means to secure their freedom. It also considers the risks involved in such a project, given the possibility of making mistakes that could endanger the health of their captors and in turn put their own lives in further danger.

Bio: Tamara J. Walker is an historian whose scholarship focuses on three interrelated thematic areas: the history of slavery and freedom in Latin America; the process of racial formation in the region; and the ways in which gender shaped the experience of enslavement and racialization. Her work is also inspired by the methodological concern of recovering the subjectivities of enslaved and free people of African descent who rarely had direct access to writing and whose voices were heavily mediated when they did appear on record.



September 27, 2019
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies


Victoria University Common Room (Rear Entrance Burwash Hall)
89 Charles Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5S1K7 Canada
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