We are happy to announce UNC Press author James Sweet, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for his book, Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World.
Between 1730 and 1750, Domingos Álvares traversed the colonial Atlantic world like few Africans of his time—from Africa to South America to Europe. By tracing the steps of this powerful African healer and vodun priest, James Sweet finds dramatic means for unfolding a history of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world in which healing, religion, kinship, and political subversion were intimately connected.
The Douglass Prize is $25,000, awarded annually to the best book written on slavery or abolition. The Prize was jointly created by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
From the announcement:
“James Sweet’s thoughtful and moving book about African healer Domingos Álvares provides much more than a biographical portrait of a remarkable 18th century man,” noted [Richard] Newman, the 2012 Douglass Prize Jury Chair and Professor of History at Rochester Institute of Technology. “Rather,” he added, “Sweet’s imaginative reconstruction of Álvares’ life in and out of bondage places African worldviews at the center of Atlantic history. In the tradition of Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms, he illuminates the very ethos animating Álvares’ struggles in Benin, Brazil, and Portugal. In Sweet’s powerful rendering, Álvares’ constant emphasis on healing, divination, communal belonging, and cultural resistance prefigured more familiar anti-colonialist and abolitionist struggles. Domingos Álvares also makes a compelling case for redefining the intellectual history of Atlantic society from Africans’ perspectives.
In addition to Sweet, the other finalists for the prize were Robin Blackburn for The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights (Verso Books); R. Blakeslee Gilpin for John Brown Still Lives!: America’s Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change (University of North Carolina Press); and Carla L. Peterson for Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City (Yale University Press).
Congratulations to Jim Sweet, Blake Gilpin, and all the other finalists on their great work.