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Fugitives, Smugglers, and ThievesPiracy and Personhood in American Literature$
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Sharada Balachandran Orihuela

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640921

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640921.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 26 May 2022

The Black Market

The Black Market

Property, Freedom, and Fugitivity in Antebellum Life

(p.81) Chapter Three The Black Market
Fugitives, Smugglers, and Thieves

Sharada Balachandran Orihuela

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter considers varied forms of political life made possible through the framework of theft. Recognizing that the hemispheric slave trade is a piratical act in the context of the novel, these pages argue that Martin Delany and Frederick Douglass suggest that slaves too should engage in piratical economic behaviors as a response to the illegal commercial activities undergirding the peculiar institution. By exploring the economic impact of enslaved subjects as thieves, Black participation in the market emerges as a strategy that disrupts the proper operations of exchange and doubly creates a “b/Black” market. Illegal trade, in the hands of an enslaved population, is a way for enslaved bodies to stake claims to personhood and, ultimately, freedom. Read alongside the significant historical events of the mid-nineteenth century, Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and Martin Delany’s Blake, or the Huts of America (1859-1862) frame an interest in the intersections of economic freedom and liberal principles as they come to bear on the enslaved Black subject in the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, Blake, or the Huts of America, Fugitives, Fugitivity, Theft, Slavery, Slave narrative

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