Black Ghost of Empire: failed emancipations, reparations, and Maroon ecologies

Hosted by the International Inequalities Institute

In-person and online public event (Old Theatre, Old Building)


Professor Kris Manjapra

Professor Kris Manjapra


Professor Alpa Shah

Professor Alpa Shah

To understand why the shadow of slavery haunts us today, we must confront the way that it ended. In this public event Kris Manjapra considers the implications of his book Black Ghost of Empire for climate justice.

Manjapra argues that during each of the supposed emancipations from slavery – whether Haiti after the revolution, the British Empire in 1833 or the United States during the Civil War – Black people were dispossessed by the moves meant to free them. Emancipation codified existing racial-colonial hierarchies - rather than obliterating them, with far-reaching consequences for climate colonialism and for environmental justice. For centuries, Black reparations movements emerged in opposition to emancipation’s racial distribution of social exploitation, toxicity, and precarity. Black reparations movements enacted liberation, sovereignty, Maroon ecologies, and alternative ways of dwelling beyond the racial-colonial order. Manjapra highlights the radical traditions of Black reparations as a long and ongoing struggle against the world order first created by slavery, then redoubled by emancipation, with deep consequences for how we approach climate justice today.

Meet our speaker and chair

Kris Manjapra (@histresist) is a Professor in the Department of History at Tufts University. He works at the intersection of transnational history and the critical study of race and colonialism. He is the author of five books, including his comparative study of global emancipation processes and the implications for reparations movement today: Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation.

Alpa Shah (@alpashah001) is Professor of Anthropology and ‘Global Economies of Care’ research programme leader at LSE International Inequalities Institute. She is the author of Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas, a finalist for the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing, the New India Book Foundation Prize and winner of the 2020 Association for Political and Legal Anthropology Book Prize.

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The International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities) at LSE brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to lead critical and cutting-edge research to understand why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.

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