María Esther Hammack
Barra Postdoctoral Fellow
“Channels of Liberation: Freedom Fighters & Black Movement Across a Global Frontier,
México, The United States and Beyond, 1790-1868”
Channels of Liberation traces the lives and geographies of Black Americans who left the United States for Mexican destinations. It analyzes their “abolitionary resistance,” or liberation practices and abolitionist activism, to envision them not as fugitives from US enslavement but as freedom fighters who pursued, claimed, and fought (at times to death) for liberation. This transnational, continental, and gender history reconsiders the Underground Railroad and the Black Diaspora by widening the geography, timeline, and actors of liberation and abolition in North America. Black Americans engineered liberation and pushed for abolition not just across US and Canadian destinations but fundamentally across the shared US-Mexico borderlands and in Mexican spaces. More than seeking freedom, they fought and actively challenged US enslavement while simultaneously propelling Mexico’s abolition processes forward, ultimately shaping the course of Mexico and Mexican history as well. How liberation and abolition materialized south of US slavery, what Mexican abolition entailed and the significance of Mexicans being and existing as abolitionists is also central central to this book, as is situating Black Americans, principally Black women, as foundational actors in the histories of liberation across the US-Mexico Global Frontier. Channels of Liberation bridges US, Mexico, Vast Early America and Spanish Borderlands histories to forge a new historiography of recovery of the Black American experience and legacies outside of the US. These legacies entwine fraught histories (1) of Black liberation in Mexican spaces, (2) of slavery and freedom across the North American Borderlands (Spanish, British and French) and (3) of Black, Native and Mexican geographies and networks of resistance and collaboration, inclusive of both their collective and individual failures and successes.