[Blackstudies-l] New Book: Neil Roberts’ Freedom as Marronage

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Thu Feb 5 03:15:39 EST 2015


   lisaparavisini posted: " Freedom as Marronage by Neil Roberts.
University of Chicago Press, 2015 From the press: What is the opposite of
freedom? In Freedom as Marronage, Neil Roberts answers this question with
definitive force: slavery, and from there he unveils powerf"    Respond to
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<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>  New Book: Neil
Roberts’ Freedom as Marronage
<http://repeatingislands.com/2015/02/04/new-book-neil-roberts-freedom-as-marronage/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

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*Freedom as Marronage by Neil Roberts. University of Chicago Press, 2015*

*From the press:*

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.
 *Lawrie Balfour, University of Virginia*
 “*Freedom as Marronage* is an exciting, well-conceived, and passionately
argued work of political theory and Africana thought. Roberts’s distinctive
understanding of freedom is especially welcome in the context of political
theory and philosophy, where slavery still appears largely (if at all) as
either a metaphor or a signpost of moral and political progress. As he
shows, thinking through the legacies of enslavement and the flight from it
is essential to understanding freedom in a postcolonial, post-apartheid,
post-civil rights moment.”
  *Charles W. Mills, Northwestern University*
 “Could there be a topic in Western political theory as thoroughly
analyzed—indeed as exhausted—as freedom? But it all depends on whose
liberties have been framing your conceptual investigation. Taking up the
perspective of the ‘dread history’ of Afro-modernity—a history of slavery,
revolt, and marronage—Roberts opens up for us an exciting new conceptual
terrain unexplored by the hegemonic Euro-narrative. In the process, he
makes irrefutably clear the extent to which modern Western political theory
has been constructed on the silencing of the voices of resistance of the
West’s subordinated racial Others.”
  *Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical
Imagination*
 “*Freedom as Marronage* is not only an illuminating exegesis on the
self-activity of enslaved people to create free space for living but an
utterly brilliant meditation on the fundamental meaning of freedom in the
modern world. Political theorists, historians, philosophers, and cultural
critics take heed: Roberts is a thinker to be reckoned with.”
  *Lewis R. Gordon, University of Connecticut, Université Toulouse Jean
Jaurès, and Rhodes University*
 “In *Freedom as Marronage*, Roberts insists that a new theory of freedom
emerges from the Haitian Revolution, but each instance of formulating this
new thought seems to demonstrate, instead, a *more rigorous**application*
of the tenets of freedom and fraternity in the French Revolution. Where
there is a difference is through dynamics of creolization, of African,
European, and indigenous American conceptions of legitimating practices in
the struggle for freedom. That the Black slaves chose, for example, the
Native American name for the island as the one for their republic is a case
in point. Roberts responds to and builds on these criticisms through
theoretical reflection on the concept of*marronage*, whose etymology points
to the sea, to what it means to be lost at sea from one perspective, stuck
on an island in another. It refers to the consciousness of enslaved
Africans in the Caribbean, whose hopes to return to Africa (home) were
challenged by the sea in every direction. Roberts shows how, in such modern
isolation on the one hand and the constant, brutal realities of slavery on
the other, the enslaved’s conceptions of freedom were affected; would, for
example, being marooned, being ‘stranded,’ lead to a form of stoic
resignation as the formulation of freedom or more active forms of
resistance, what the revolutionary psychiatrist, political theorist, and
philosopher Frantz Fanon refers to as becoming ‘actional’? Roberts works
through Hannah Arendt, Phillip Petit, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Frederick
Douglass in a debate over such topics as the impact of racialized slavery
on conceptions of freedom to problems with the dialectics of recognition as
the basis of securing freedom and dignity for the self.  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. This book, then, is an exemplar of the creolization of theory, of
theory from the global south reaching beyond the institutional location of
its author in northern provinces, to articulate freedom and the quest for
human dignity beyond the confines of Euromodernity to the heart and soul of
a human world in need of learning much from its always present dark side.
It’s a splendid addition to the bourgeoning movement of creative political
thought from Afro-modernity and beyond. A must read for those interested in
knowing, proverbially, otherwise.”
   *lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
February 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm | Tags: Neil Roberts
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=neil-roberts> | Categories: New Books
<http://repeatingislands.com/?cat=38393> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-kt7

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