vol. 4 No. 2 Dec. 2020

Recording Africa: Charles Ball’s 1836 Narrative of Enslavement and Encounters
Author:James McCorkle    Time:2021-02-20    Click:

Abstract: Charles Ball’s 1836 slave narrative is not only an example of an autobiographical narrative of escape from enslavement, it includes narratives of Africans who have been captured and brought to North America. Ball’s narrative records the heterogeneity of Africans arriving—from Muslim West Africans to those from the Congo, a ubiquitous term given more specificity in his narrative. Defining a distinction between an arrivant and someone, like himself, who may be a second generation enslaved person is Ball’s purpose, suggesting he belongs to a new culture. Ball’s descriptions parallel Zora Neale Hurston’s description of Kossola, a record of the last African brought to North America as an enslaved person. Ball’s role recording his encounters parallels that of Hurston as ethnographer and W. E. B. DuBois as a social historian.

Keywords: Charles Ball, Zora Neale Hurston, Kossola, W.E.B. Du Bois, slavery, Muslim, environment

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