Feb. 21, 2019 – Herman Bennett

Herman Bennett’s presentation, Before the Human: Africans, Sovereigns & Slaves, will take place in 160 Willard on Thursday, February 21, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.

Description: How might the focus on eighteenth-century race and commodification obscure earlier and equally expansive ideas about difference and dispossession?  In taking up this question as a conceptual starting point, the talk charts a different, if not lost, genealogies of difference and dispossession that defined how Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries registered their encounter with Africans and subsequently classified some as subjects of sovereigns and other as sovereign-less subjects who could be enslaved.

Herman L. Bennett is a Professor in the Ph. D. Program in History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY); he is also a faculty member of the Certificate Program in Africana Studies, American Studies, and Renaissance Studies.  Previously he was an instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Johns Hopkins University and Rutgers—The State University of New Jersey. Prior to his academic appointments, Professor Bennett earned BA with Highest Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986, his MA (in 1986) and Ph.D. from Duke University (1993)

Some of his most notable publications include: “The Subject in the Plot: National Boundaries and the ‘History’ of the Black Atlantic,” African Studies Review, 2000; “‘Sons of Adam’: Text, Context, and the Early Modern African Subject,” Representations, 2005; “Genealogies to a Past: Africa, Ethnicity, and Marriage in Seventeenth-Century Mexico,” New Studies in American Slavery, 2005; and “Writing into a Void: Slavery, History and Representing Blackness in Latin America,” Social Text, 2007. His books include Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570–1640, 2003; Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico (2009) and coming in October, African Kings & Black Slaves: Sovereignty & Dispossession in the Early Atlantic (2018)

He is completing a new book entitled, Bones of the Dead: Place, Memory and Gender in Colonial Mexico

Professor Bennett has been the recipient of numerous scholarly awards including two National Endowment for the Humanities Grants, a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University, an ACLS Burkhardt Fellowship, and Membership at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton.   A few years ago, he received the American Historical Association Equity Award, awarded for ‘excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the Historical Profession.’  Two years ago he convened a Mellon Sawyer Seminar: ‘The Cultures & History of Freedom.’  In 2016, Professor Bennett was inducted into The Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars.  Bennett is the former Editor of the Blacks in the Diaspora Series at Indiana University Press, a member of the editorial board of the University of Florida Presses, a member of the Social Text Editorial Collective and also a former editorial board member of the American Historical Review, the premier journal of the American Historical profession.


By Herman L. Bennett:

                               African Kings and Black Slaves