"The History of an Exceptional Black Saint in Sicily and
Why it Matters"
Lori De Lucia, Postdoctoral Fellow, WIGH, Harvard University; Berensen Fellow, I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies Spring 2022; Heinz Heinen Fellow at Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, Bonn University
Faculty Commentator: Maghan Keita, Professor of History and Global Interdisciplinary Studies; Founding Director, Africana Studies; Founding Director, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Villanova University
Student Commentator: Joseph Leone, Master's in Public Policy Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School
ABSTRACT: In this article, San Benedetto il Moro, a Black African saint who lived in sixteenth-century Sicily, is used as an indicator of the larger populations of enslaved Black Africans that were trafficked into the Christian Mediterranean from Borno, West Africa. It explores how exceptionalizing histories such as his obscures the larger presence of enslaved Black Africans living in early Modern Sicily. Moving from his personal biography, to the larger populations of enslaved Africans, De Lucia explores how one trans-Saharan slave trafficking route can force a reconsideration of concepts of race, practices of slavery, and the writing of history in the Mediterranean.
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This graduate-faculty research seminar is designed to bring together interested faculty and students on a continuing basis to cover topics on global history. It is part of History 2950A/B, Approaches to Global History, and includes both reading sessions designed for graduate students and research sessions open to the interested public during which students and faculty participants will present current research. Faculty participants will be drawn from a number of schools, and, most especially, from the group of fellows in global history who are spending the academic year 2021-2022 at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History. Discussions will be moderated by Professors Sven Beckert and Charles Maier.