Michael Baptista Lecture looks at slavery, freedom and deception in the new world

Who Ain't A Slave Michael Baptista Lecture Poster

The Empire of Necessity Book CoverGreg Grandin, professor of history at New York University who writes on United States foreign policy, Latin America, genocide and human rights, will deliver this year’s Michael Baptista Lecture based on his new book, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World.

The lecture, Who Ain’t a Slave, will take place Wednesday, March 26 at 6pm in the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre, Keele campus. It is presented by The Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean (CERLAC) and the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Greg Grandin
Greg Grandin

Grandin’s new book, The Empire of Necessity, is a reconstruction of the events that inspired Herman Melville’s novella Benito Cereno, which was published just before the US Civil War and takes place on a Spanish slave ship shortly after its arrival in the bay of a remote island off the coast of southern Chile. The Empire of Necessity explores the meaning of encounters between empires for slavery in all of the Americas during the Age of Revolution. 

Grandin, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is the author of several prize-winning books, including Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan, 2009). A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History, as well as for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Fordlandia was picked by the New York Times, New Yorker, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and NPR for their “best of” lists, and Amazon.com named it the best history book of 2009.

Who Ain't A Slave PosterToni Morrison described The Empire of Necessity as “scholarship at its best. Greg Grandin’s deft penetration into the marrow of the slave industry is compelling, brilliant and necessary.” Philip Gourevitch called it as “a multifaceted masterpiece…that rare book in which the drama of the action and the drama of ideas are equally measured, a work of history and of literary reflection that is as urgent as it is timely.”