Marronage, as conceptualized in this project, draws on the core definition of the word in Black Atlantic history: the process of removing oneself from slavery. Mapping Marronage visualizes flight as process, as lived reality and as relationship to space and power in slaveholding societies. Concretely, marronage in this project is any act by which an enslaved person seeks to move him/herself beyond the reach of slaveholders’ power. Enslaved women, men and children sought to move – with varying degrees of success – beyond the reach of slavery’s oppression and dehumanization. The oppressive and far-reaching power of slavery meant that movement in and of itself did not automatically constitute resistance or marronage. Rather, the different forms of coerced and voluntary movement that characterized the circulation of enslaved people through the Atlantic world show conditions and experiences of enslavement that widen our field of vision beyond the plantation. These varying forms of mobility, including flight, correspondence, financial remittances and legal disputes, form the core data for this visualization. 

Because Mapping Marronage focuses on networks and connections, the movements depicted in the visualization do not only correspond to sites of a given person's physical presence. They also include the geographies of people who were connected to them.

Mapping Marronage offers different possibilities for users. As a resource for research, the visualization presents information on the overlaps and intersections in the lives, movement and work of different enslaved people who may not initially appear to be connected. The site also provides curated access to archival material and allows users to consult and engage with a variety of primary documents from archives around the world. These documents include letters, inventories, manumission papers and testimonies that highlight the role of movement in claiming freedom in the Atlantic world.

As a teaching tool, Mapping Marronage allows students to engage in hands-on collaboration that bridges that gap between often-solitary archival work and collaborative project work. One model for using this site in a course is to work with students in small groups on mining archival sources for geographic and biographical data about identified enslaved people and representing that information on the map. 

The data visualizations on this site run on the Creative Commons-licenced code originally built to power In the Same Boats. Thanks to Kaiama Glover and Alex Gil for their work on the development of this code base. Thanks also to Agile Humanities Agency for their dedicated work in building this site.

For more information and/or to contribute to Mapping Marronage, please contact Annette Joseph-Gabriel: ajosephg@umich.edu