English Research Seminar Professor Sharon Achinstein (Johns Hopkins University)
“Captivity and Slavery in Milton and Grotius”
Though they were both formative seventeenth-century thinkers on liberty and rights, neither Milton nor Grotius condemned the practices of slavery in their own time. Yet their justifications of enslavement differed, especially in addressing the forms of racialized slavery as were arising in early modernity. In contrast to Milton, who saw enslavement as along a spectrum of theological, moral, political, and geographical conditions, Grotius negated a racializing discourse that would come to dominate the slave system. Through an analysis of their representations of enslaved people, there may be understood a “racial contract” within the liberal concept of rights.
Link to the seminar: