Wednesday 19th of April 2023 our director Damian Pargas will host a roundtable discussion at Leiden University on racial democracy and slavery.

The roundtable, titled “In the Shadows of Slavery: Black Freedom and Democratic Divergence in America, 1776-1860”, focuses on how, in the period between the American Revolution and the US Civil War, practical and ideological understandings of citizenship and democracy were heavily influenced by the issue of Black freedom. Damian Pargas will present his current explorations and reflections on a new project centered on the question: how did the racial landscape of citizenship and democracy in antebellum America take shape and how did free Black populations navigate this landscapes? He is especially interested in divergences between states, using a comparative approach to argue that states in this period created multiple (incompatible) variations, discourses and theorizations of “American democracy” on the basis of their divergent approaches to free Black communities within their borders. These include:

1) civic democracies (where free Blacks were recognized as full citizens);
2) racial democracies (where free Blacks were non-citizens); and
3) hybrid democracies (where free Blacks were second-class citizens).

The lecture can be attended both online and in person in Leiden (Huizinga Building, room 1.67, Doelensteeg 16) on April 19th at 16:00. If you wish to attend, please email Damian Pargas ( beforehand.