Please join us for a talk with Jennifer Wilson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University.
In 1802, Nikolai Karamzin founded the journal Messenger of Europe with the intention that it would inform the Russian public of current political developments in the West, including as they related to the European colonies. From its inaugural issue through 1804, about two dozen stories explicitly concerning the Haitian Revolution appeared in its pages, and as an editor, Karamzin was sympathetic to the cause. In this talk, Jennifer Wilson will explore Karamzin’s investments in a successful slave rebellion on the island of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) with a focus on how the Haitian Revolution provided a canvas onto which he could impose his own preoccupations with matters of self-determination and the right of Russia (and Haiti) to form governments that departed from the norms and practices of the West. Special attention will be paid to how Karamzin utilized the then-emerging ideas of climate theory and race science to make the case that the African slaves in Haiti, like Slavs, were physiologically different from Western Europeans and thus, he claimed, required different forms of governance. Wilson will also discuss the presence of Polish soldiers on Haiti and how this complicated Karamzin’s coverage of the fighting given his fears of Polish independence.
Jennifer Wilson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University. She is presently at work on two book manuscripts: Radical Chastity: Abstinence and the Political Imagination in 19th-century Russia and Writing the Black Atlantic in Imperial Russia. Her essays on Russian literary culture and politics have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and the The Atlantic.
Image: A still from Haiti/Halka (exhibition for the Polish Pavillion at the 2015 Venice Biennale)