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Hands across the Ocean: Slavery and Sociability

Hands across the Ocean: Slavery and Sociability

(p.179) Chapter Six Hands across the Ocean: Slavery and Sociability
Romanticism and the Question of the Stranger
David Simpson
University of Chicago Press

George Keate’s account of the voyage of the East India Company ship Antelope, under the command of Captain Henry Wilson, provides a brief example of a conversational relationship between strangers. In this case, it’s between the Europeans and their Malay crew. Thomas Rose, a linguist and native of Bengal, was the key to the avoidance of the great potential for misconceptions and misunderstandings between crew members. The chapter explores another account that experienced a wholly different outcome. In September 1781, two years before the Antelope was wrecked in the Pelew Islands, Luke Collingwood, master of the slave ship Zong was sailing for Jamaica, en route from West Africa. Due to a claimed water shortage by Collingwood, slaves were killed in an attempt to win the insurance on the slaves. These two cases provide the benchmark for discussions in this chapter regarding the issues of slavery and sociability, and their relation to the concept of translation, and the stranger.

Keywords:   Antelope, George Keate, Zong, Luke Collingwood, slavery, sociability, Thomas Rose, Captain Henry Wilson

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