Introducing Equiano's World

This project on Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano) focuses on the abolition movement. The subject of the project is the life of Olaudah Equiano, alias Gustavus Vassa, the African, whose Interesting Narrative, published in 1789, has been credited as influential in the abolition of the British slave trade, implemented in 1807, and which is widely read in English literature and Black Studies courses, and remains in print in several popular editions. There are over 25,000 sites on the web relating to this most interesting African and black Briton. His story is a classic slave narrative, written in the richness of eighteenth-century literature, by someone who did not know any English until he was eleven. In the early 1790s, the heady days influenced by Revolutionary France on those interested in Parliamentary reform, the abolition of the slave trade, and the ending of slavery. Vassa was arguably the most influential black in London, at a time when the black community numbered perhaps 20,000, making London one of the largest “African” cities, if not the largest, in the world at the time.

There has been a considerable body of information collected, much of it published in the various editions of the Interesting Narrative, and most fully in the edition by Vincent Carretta. Moreover, there is some very good scholarly analysis of different aspects of Vassa/Equiano’s life and significance. This project builds on that knowledge. Considerable historical work remains to be undertaken, particularly with regard to the relationship of Vassa to the black poor of London, his friendship with radical leader Thomas Hardy, who was tried for treason in 1794, his marriage to a white woman, Suzannah Cullen, and their children, his commercial activities and observations in the Caribbean, his involvement in the Mosquito Shore venture of Dr. Charles Irving and Vassa’s fascination with the Muslim world of the Ottoman Empire. The papers of the leading abolitionists, intellectuals and political figures of the late eighteenth century and those who subscribed to the various editions of the Interesting Narrative are being searched. Moreover, research is being conducted on places and individuals that were important in Vassa’s life.

This website is divided into different sections that establish the context in which Vassa lived, explore the places where he traveled, and the people whom he knew. There is also a section that raises questions surrounding Vassa's life, including where he was born to his views on race and slavery, and hosts a forum for discussion and queries. Studying Equiano provides access to primary documents, published scholarly analysis and web links relevant to times and places of Equiano's World. Taken together, Equiano's World is an adventure into the history of abolition, accessible to scholars, students and the interested public.



Gustavus Vassa
Frontispiece, The Interesting Narrative (1789)
Painted by William Denton
Engraved by Daniel Orme



Dominia anglorum in præcipuis insulis Americæ ut sunt insula: S. Christophori, Antegoa, Iamaica, Barbados; nec non insulae Bermudes vel Sommers dictae, singulari mappa omnia exhibita et edita ab Homannianis Heredibus. Gum privil. sac. Caes. Majestatis. Die englische Colonie-Laender auf den Insuln von America und zwar die Insuln: S. Christophori, Antegoa, Iamaica, Barbados; samt den Ins: Bermudes, sonst Sommers genańt. Website link

Project History

Coming soon!



Project Direction

Prof. Paul Lovejoy

Distinguished Research Professor
FRSC

Concept and Creation
(2009 - current)

A leading proponent of revisionist interpretations of the history of the African diaspora, he is the founding Director of the Harriet Tubman Institute and editor of the Harriet Tubman Series on the African Diaspora with Africa World Press. His theoretical approach places Africa at the center of intellectual discourse. His contributions to the UNESCO include service on the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project (1996-2012), his continued involvement as co-editor of the on-line series of essays by committee members, and a co-editor of the UNESCO General History of Africa, vol. 10, on Global Africa.

Bruno Véras

Project Co-ordinator


Content and Creation Management
(2016 - current)

Bruno Véras is a public and digital historian, researching Global Africa, religion and Transnational History. He is the Project Manager for the Freedom Narratives Projects (freedomnarratives.org) and former UNESCO consultant for African-Brazilian museum exhibits and slave narratives at FUNDAJ, Brazil. He is a documentary filmmaker and cultural producer, also directing awarded educational projects in the Global South. He is the creator and co-director of the website Baquaqua Project (baquaqua.org). He is currently a PhD student in History at York University and project coordinator for the SHADD Project (shadd.org).

Kartikay Chadha

Webmaster


Programming Training and Supervisor
(2019 - current)

Kartikay Chadha is a Bioinformatician and Human Statistical Geneticist. He holds a Masters of Science degree from the University of Toronto. Kartikay ia an expert in computer programming, database development and management, and big data quantitative and qualitative analyses. He currently holds appointments at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, OCAD University and York University. Kartikay is the primary developer of The Language of Marks Collaborative Web-portal and is currently assisting Prof. Paul Lovejoy's research group in developing database and front-end visualization tools.
View Personal Website

Project Team

Jacqueline Garriss
Researcher
Content creation
(2017-2018)

Leidy Alpízar
Researcher
Historical Data Management
(2019-2020)

Mariana Tiné
Researcher
Mapping and GIS
(2018-2019)

Özgül Özdemir
Researcher
Content creation
(2018-2019)

Fernanda Sierra Suárez
Art Creation
web-designing
(2017-2019)

Suad Hassan Ahmed
Research Assistant
Content creation
(2017-2019)



Angela Ouma
Research Assistant
Content creation
(2017-2018)

Kanna Anigbogu
Research Assistant
Content creation
(2018-2019)

Carly Downs
Research Assistant
Content co-management and creation
(2018-2019)

Luisa Cruz
Research Assistant
Video content development
(2018-2019)

Rand Saoor
Research Assistant
Programming Assistant
(2018-2019)

Ian Hood
Research Assistant
Programming Assistant
(2019-2020)



Rita Tran
Co-op student Assistant
Data entry
(2018-2019)

Yacine Daddi Addoun
Project Coordinator
Webmaster
(2010-2012)

Rafael Carvalho Slobodian
Webdesign Programming
(2011-2012)

Karlee Sapoznik
Researcher Historical
Data Management
(2010-2012)

Jeffrey Gunn
Researcher
Content creation
(2010-2012)

Peitra Arana
Researcher
Content creation
(2010-2012)



Feisal Farah
Researcher
Content creation
(2010-2012)

Carlos Algandona
Researcher
Content creation
(2010-2012)

Advisory Board

Gwendolyn Hall
Rutgers University

Suzanne Schwarz
University of Worcester

Sean Kelley
University of Essex

Jane Landers
Vanderbilt University

Henry Lovejoy
University of Colorado

Martha Ladly
Ontario College of Art and Design University



Katrina Keefer
Trent University

Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec
Université de Sherbrooke

Walter Hawthorne
Michigan State University

Yacine Daddi Addoun
Notre Dame University

Érika Melek Delgado
York University

Platform

The Equiano's World website is an open-source, database-driven, online digital repository created at the Harriet Tubman Institute in York University. The user front-end of this website is developed in HTML5 using bootstrap 4.0 framework that provides pre-written Javascript and CSS classes. The backed database is developed in MySQL, an open-source relational database management system. PHP programming language allows communication between the front end of the website and the MySQL database.

Previous versions of the Equiano’s World website in PDF format are archived to demonstrate development over time and are hosted in Project History.

Credits and Support

Best Practices

Coming soon!



Contact us

Prof. Paul Lovejoy
E: plovejoy@yorku.ca

Bruno Verás
E: brunorv@yorku.ca


Address:

329 York Lanes
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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