Fugitive Geographies: Rerouting the Stories of North American Slavery

Adams Rachel

in Continental Divides

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226005515
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226005539 | DOI:
Fugitive Geographies: Rerouting the Stories of North American Slavery

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This chapter examines the very different place of national borders in slave and neo-slave narratives about flight to Canada and Mexico. What these narratives reveal is that for fugitives eager to escape the United States, the border is not a divisive obstacle but a welcome conduit to liberty. Historically, the study of slave narratives has emphasized the U.S.–Canadian border, locating freedom to the north and idealizing Canada as the slaves' Promised Land. This chapter is concerned with how and why the north acquired its privileged, quasi-mythic status, and how this geographical convention has prevented more nuanced views of Canada's role in the history of slavery on the continent. A discussion of North and South in nineteenth-century representations of slavery provides a backdrop for the discussion of the geographic imaginary of late twentieth-century neo-slave narratives.

Keywords: slave narratives; North American slavery; fugitive slaves; transatlantic slave trade; stories

Chapter.  17515 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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