Freedom's Issue: The Enlightenment, Scientific Racism, and Chattel Slavery

full name / name of organization: 
LaRose T. Parris/ LaGuardia Community College-CUNY
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The 43rd annual convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) will be held March 15-18th, 2012 in Rochester, New York. Rochester is the site of the home, publication operations, and orations of Frederick Douglass, where he edited the North Star and delivered his famous speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" Building on the thesis of Douglass' speech, this panel will explore how Douglass, David Walker, and other nineteenth-century Africana abolitionists challenged slavery by revealing the paradox of the Enlightenment's rights of man doctrine: freedom was conceptualized as Africans were enslaved and colonized throughout the Diaspora. By citing Enlightenment discourse's erasure of ancient Egypt from the narrative of Western civilization, these activists refuted theories of African subhumanity and ahistoricality – the ideological basis of scientific racism. 250-word abstracts to LaRose Parris: Deadline: September 30, 2011.