OCAD U Faculty of Arts & Science Speaker Series Presents Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson
“Black Body Politics and Self-Care: Slave Dress as Resistance in Caribbean and Canadian Slavery”
Thursday, April 29, 2021
12:00PM – 1:30PM EST
This lecture pursues a comparative exploration of slave dress, cultural preservation, and self-determination in Canada and British Caribbean islands like Jamaica and St. Vincent. Recuperating the histories of three enslaved black women-- Dutchess, Florimell, and Cash-- and one enslaved black man, Andrew, it explores how they acquired the means and materials to adorn, protect, and beautify their bodies amidst endemic material deprivation, cultural prohibitions, economic disenfranchisement and pervasive physical violence. Drawing on Rebecca Earle’s concept of “clothing acts,” the lecture examines genre studies, portraiture and fugitive slave advertisements to explore the spaces between the imposition of cloth rations in tropical planation regimes like Jamaica, the use of European second-hand clothing in Canada and the preservation of African cultural dress practices like headwrapping across the Americas.
Charmaine A. Nelson is a Professor of Art History and a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University in Halifax, where she is also the founding director of the first institute focused on the study of Canadian Slavery. Nelson has made ground-breaking contributions to the fields of the Visual Culture of Slavery, Race and Representation, and Black Canadian Studies.
Camille Isaacs, Associate Professor, English, Faculty of Arts & Science
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Image Credit: Agostino Brunias, Linen Market, Dominica (1780), oil on canvas, 49.8 x 68.6 cm., B1981.25.76, Paul Mellon Collection, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.
Photo credit: Charles Michael