Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation.

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Author: Ron Gifford
Date: Fall 2020
From: Teaching History: A Journal of Methods(Vol. 45, Issue 2)
Publisher: Emporia State University
Document Type: Book review
Length: 777 words
Lexile Measure: 1580L

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David W. Blight and Jim Downs, eds. Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 2017. Pp. 190. $24.95.

Students of Emancipation need no better reason to pick up Beyond Freedom than it emerged from a 2011 conference held at the Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, of which David Blight is now the director, and has chapters by a veritable who's who in Emancipation Studies. It is also a thoughtful reminder that historians are continually grappling with what freedom was in the nineteenth century, who defined it, and whether it was enough to make a difference in African Americans' lives.

The title might seem misleading to many readers, as the book is entirely about emancipation; however, the subtitle clarifies that historians are trying to disrupt the "freedom paradigm," which focused on freedom in zero sum fashion, by emphasizing the painful process of emancipation, and in the process abandoning the traditional periodization and adopting different lenses to analyze the citizen's relationship to the state. In sum, the authors remind us, emancipation was messy, it was never preordained to end in perfect freedom, and Black...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A647352880