This talk surfaces and examines emancipatory resistance in The Omnibus or Jamaica Scrapbook: A Thing of Shreds and Patches by Jack Jingle held at the National Library of Jamaica. A hitherto under-studied and expansive manuscript hundreds of pages long, the scrapbook includes entries styled in a variety of popular 18th-century genres written by several anonymous contributors between 1824-1831. In contrast with abolitionist literature of the prior 50 years depicting terrorized enslaved subjects in need of saving, many scrapbook entries depict enslaved people criticizing and resisting enslavers, often based on humorous misinterpretations of enslavers’ demands. Setting aside period-based categories such as the sublime or beautiful that recursively reinscribe white supremacy, we might utilize instead Sianne Ngai’s definition of the zany as it relates to economic processes and social organization. By reading the scrapbook’s commingling of extractive labor, power, and personhood through the category of the zany, historically well-documented modes of emancipatory resistance such as work slow-down and marronage provide affective/aesthetic counterpoints to the period’s usual literary framing of slavery.
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