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Smoldering Memories and Burning Questions: The Politics of Remembering Sally Bassett and Slavery in the British Colony Bermuda

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Abstract:

In 1730, Sally Bassett, a sixty-eight year old black woman enslaved in Bermuda, was burned to death for allegedly poisoning the masters of her enslaved granddaughter. In 2009, in commemoration of Bermuda’s four hundred year anniversary, Bermuda’s Progressive Labor Party Government erected a sculpture of Bassett to memorialize the struggle of blacks against slavery.
A racially charged public debate about issues surrounding the monument emerged through print and electronic media. Whites decried the statue as “inappropriate” on a number of reasons, such as that Bassett was a convicted ‘criminal.’ Blacks argued that she was a freedom fighter and needed to be recognized as a national hero. The British Governor of Bermuda compared the sculpture to monuments commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and the Boer Blood River war against the Zulu.
The process of publically memorializing slavery in Bermuda is politically charged, particularly in a society that has historically criminalized black protest but now features a black government committed to the promotion of Bermuda’s “national” heritage. Representations of slavery are contested spaces of intellectual and cultural warfare, often reflecting contemporary issues of power, race, racism and colonialism. This is critical in an era of cultural tourism—the monument was the most popular site for Bermuda’s 2010 African Diaspora Heritage Trial Conference. Bassett’s experience also challenges a white mainstream master narrative that suggests that slavery in Bermuda was benign and devoid of black protest, and has value for understanding gender, slavery and transatlantic resistance against slavery across the Diaspora.
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Name: 96th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p521971_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Swan, Quito. "Smoldering Memories and Burning Questions: The Politics of Remembering Sally Bassett and Slavery in the British Colony Bermuda" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p521971_index.html>

APA Citation:

Swan, Q. "Smoldering Memories and Burning Questions: The Politics of Remembering Sally Bassett and Slavery in the British Colony Bermuda" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p521971_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: In 1730, Sally Bassett, a sixty-eight year old black woman enslaved in Bermuda, was burned to death for allegedly poisoning the masters of her enslaved granddaughter. In 2009, in commemoration of Bermuda’s four hundred year anniversary, Bermuda’s Progressive Labor Party Government erected a sculpture of Bassett to memorialize the struggle of blacks against slavery.
A racially charged public debate about issues surrounding the monument emerged through print and electronic media. Whites decried the statue as “inappropriate” on a number of reasons, such as that Bassett was a convicted ‘criminal.’ Blacks argued that she was a freedom fighter and needed to be recognized as a national hero. The British Governor of Bermuda compared the sculpture to monuments commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and the Boer Blood River war against the Zulu.
The process of publically memorializing slavery in Bermuda is politically charged, particularly in a society that has historically criminalized black protest but now features a black government committed to the promotion of Bermuda’s “national” heritage. Representations of slavery are contested spaces of intellectual and cultural warfare, often reflecting contemporary issues of power, race, racism and colonialism. This is critical in an era of cultural tourism—the monument was the most popular site for Bermuda’s 2010 African Diaspora Heritage Trial Conference. Bassett’s experience also challenges a white mainstream master narrative that suggests that slavery in Bermuda was benign and devoid of black protest, and has value for understanding gender, slavery and transatlantic resistance against slavery across the Diaspora.


Similar Titles:
Administrative Memory and Colonial Legacy: Population Management in the Former British Colonies of Israel and Cyprus

How to Remember Rosie: The Politics of Representation and Memory at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial

Snake Gwaan Eat Whateva in the Belly of the Frog: Bermuda’s Sally Bassett, Poisoning and Maritime Maroonage, and Transatlantic Networks of Resistance to Slavery.


 
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