Sarah Johnson

Maroons and Marronage: A Literary Study with Objects

My dissertation, “Maroons and Marronage: A Literary Study with Objects,” explores how fictional narratives refocus the problem of an inchoate archive of marronage. As slaves who emancipated themselves and created clandestine communities within slave states, maroons were intentionally elusive, and the limited archive available to scholars today reflects in many ways their successful escape and practice of marronage. How can scholars represent people who did not want to be found? I address this question by reading colonial representations and fictionalizations alongside present-day discussions of marronage across the Atlantic world African Diaspora. Four objects carried by maroons—the portrait, the bottle, the epaulette and the hatchet—act as springboards for the concerns of each chapter. By attending to the telling material objects that cross borders and periods, I depart from a tradition of nation-specific studies to consider the broader cultural significance and theoretical import of maroons and marronage. The Center for Race & Gender supports the writing of my second chapter that examines the figure of the Maroon General and images of black male leadership in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century. Towards this end I will be conducting archival research on flight and marronage in New Orleans, Louisiana.