Colonial & Postcolonial
Literary Dialogues

 

 

Europe Supported By Africa & America

By William Blake

Engravings for J. G. Stedman, Narrative, of a five years' expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of
Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild coast of South America; from the year 1772, to 1777.
Published in London, 1796.

This illustrated version of the visionary Blake engraving offers colonial dialogue as a potential dance among equals. Blake was opposed to slavery and the bright gold bands on Africa and America are symbols of enslavement. "While one hand of Europe limply holds the rope that links the three continents, the other more rigorously grasps the hand of the African in sisterly equality. This was a dramatic innovation in the concept of the relationship between the continents, reflecting Blake's abolitionist perspective." (Source: David Hart) "The interdependence shows through the linking of arms amongst the three women and the braid, which perhaps represents tobacco, and binds them together. His engraving promotes the image that without Africa and America, Europe is unsupported – therefore, Europe must question the
treatment of Africa and America in this cycle." (Carolyn Parks, Art as a Representation of Resistance a rich essay on the Stedman Narrative, it's illustrations, and it's place in the history of Caribbean slavery.) Additional information is also available at the site What is Atlantic History?

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Colonial & Postcolonial Literary Dialogues

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Last Updated: April 26, 2001