Helmut Meier‘s study of pro- and anti-slavery texts from 1784–1825 focuses on understanding the distinct image of Africans in the British debate on the slave trade and slavery as such. Starting from the premise that, at the threshold from the early to the late modern period, the distinct image of Africans as slaves was instrumental in universalizing a Eurocentric concept of capitalist wage labor both at the colonial centres and margins, Meier argues that, by portraying African slaves as suffering wretches, especially anti-slavery texts created colonial Others in an indistinct zone between inclusion and exclusion from humanity. The discourse on slavery thus constructs African slaves as mimetic Others which could subsequently become the objects of a discourse of colonial reform and ‘betterment.’
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About the Author
Helmut Meier, PhD, studied at the universities of Innsbruck and Nottingham Trent. He published on the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. He currently teaches at a secondary vocational school and works at a college of education in Innsbruck, Austria.