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Dealing with Strangeness: Language and Information Flow in an 18th Century Slave Society Zemon Davis, Natalie


Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. This lecture describes the language and practices of translation among slaves and masters in the plantation society of 18th century Suriname. Slaves from different parts of western Africa created a creole language to talk to each other. Two dictionaries were produced of that language through collaboration between free white men and slaves. What did each group learn of the other? Did the flow of information or its silencing facilitate resistance or oppression? The lecture ends with two 19th-century figures who used language for cultural affirmation: one a former slave who wrote about Yoruba, the other a pioneering European linguist who studied the Suriname creole.

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