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The CLR James Journal

Volume 23, Issue 1/2, Fall 2017

Tacuma Peters
Pages 61-82
DOI: 10.5840/clrjames2017121248

The Anti-Imperialism of Ottobah Cugoano
Slavery, Abolition, and Colonialism in Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery

This article argues that the work of Ottobah Cugoano provides readers with a robust anti-imperial analysis of European modernity. For Cugoano, slavery and colonialism are coeval and mutually constitutive processes. I argue that Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evils of Slavery which has been accepted as a tract of radical abolitionism should also be interpreted as an anti-imperial text. I contend that we must attend to the global scope of Cugoano’s anti-imperialism which includes critiques of European colonialism in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as provides recommendations for radical changes in the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. Through an analysis of Cugoano’s historiography of modern slavery and colonialism, I argue that Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evils of Slavery provides one of the most thorough criticisms of slavery and empire in the eighteenth century.